Halloween
Fundraising

Boo! 6 Things that Should Scare Fundraisers on Halloween

When Halloween rolls around each year, we see that interesting human impulse to scare ourselves — and others.

So people dress up as zombies, monsters, and aliens. (Others dress as princesses or astronauts, which are probably not meant to be scary.)  People pay to walk through “haunted houses” full of scary situations. We watch more scary movies than usual.

Ready to get into the spirit of Halloween? Here are some super-scary things for fundraisers:

Data problems

Bad data is just about the worst things that can happen to a fundraiser. It can kill your fundraising in the most gruesome and terrifying ways. It can cause you to lose track of your donor’s interactions with you. It can cause you to misspell their names or send multiple copies of the same thing — making it look like you don’t have a clue.

Bad data can make you talk to donors you didn’t mean to talk to. Or ignore donors you should be talking to. Or say ridiculous things to them, like “Thank you for your generous donation of $0.” (True story!)

Make sure all your data is clean, complete, and accurate. Make it a priority to keep it clean. And be sure you’re using a database that works. This is one area where bargains cannot be worth it at all.

Cuts to the acquisition budget

During the early stages of the pandemic, many organizations did very well at new donor acquisition. Some are still, while others are seeing a slump. When times are hard — as they are likely to be in the coming months, it might seem sensible and easy to spend less on donor acquisition. After all, acquisition is an area where most of us lose money even in good times. If response drops, it doesn’t get any better.

The scary part is, when you cut acquisition, you slash your future. You guarantee that the hard times will last. One year of no new donors means seven (or more) years of lower revenue. If you stop acquisition for long enough, you can send your organization into a death-spiral.

Armchair Experts Pushing Theories

There are a lot of people out there with interesting theories about fundraising. They often sound reasonable, but they should scare the fun-size candy bars right out of your pillowcase! I’m talking theories like these:

  • Direct mail doesn’t work anymore. Time to go all digital.
  • If you talk to your donors, they’ll get angry and leave you forever.
  • Let’s stop fundraising from old people. They’re dying. Let’s pivot to millennials and other young, hip, cool people that we’d rather be talking to.

There are a lot more like that. These three are not supported by facts. They are theories. The theories that spread are the ones that people want to believe. When someone shares something like this, ask for data! Because following a bad theory can wreck your budget and choke your career!

Donor fatigue

Donor fatigue is the “invisible man” of fundraising monsters. Okay, more than invisible. It’s non-existent.

But when you see people talking about it, trouble is close behind.

Donor fatigue is an imaginary state where donors get tired of some topic (or even the whole philanthropy things) and just turn away. Most often, donor fatigue is given as the reason charitable giving during a disaster eventually drops off. “Donors are tired of it,” people say.

The current brand of fatigue is “COVID fatigue,” meaning donors have just had it with fundraising connected to the pandemic. The proposed way to deal with this and other forms of fatigue is something like this:

  • It’s not our fault, it’s those good-for-nothing donors!
  • Let’s discuss what’s wrong with donors in general.
  • Get ahead of it by going silent. Don’t worry — nobody will blame you for the lost revenue, as it’s the donors’ fault!

As with most lies that spread easily, there’s a little sliver of truth mixed in to the donor fatigue myth. Donor response to any given topic is not the same all the time. It grows and shrinks.

And the most sure way to see it shrink? Stop communicating with donors! Scary.

Rebranding

Rebranding is supposed to inject new energy into our world. But it never does. Turns out the brand experts are the brain-eating zombies of the fundraising world. If they show up at your door, slam it. If they get in, run away.

A rebranding has the potential to devour your fundraising program with their grand abstractions and faddish design. After the branding experts have come and gone, many organizations are stuck with a drop of up to 50% in fundraising revenue.

The boss loves it

This one seems like it’s more of a ballerina on your porch than a werewolf. But believe me, it can really zap you, big time!

This one always gets you because you want the boss to love your work, right? The problem is, when the boss thinks you’ve really captured what she wants to say, you have almost certainly mucked it up for your donors.

I know this may not seem tenable, but if your boss goes ga-ga over your fundraising message, you should probably go back to the drawing board.

The best way to defend yourself from these monsters is to get up-to-date, accurate information — and to be part of a community of smart, sharing fundraisers. That’s what you’ll get when you join The Fundraisingology Lab by Moceanic. It’s a true community, the thing we all need most right now — plus all kinds of courses, templates, checklists, and other resources that can help you go to new places as a fundraiser. More information here.

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Fundraisers Gotta Keep on Truckin
Fundraising

Fundraisers Gotta Keep on Truckin’

Remember Keep on Truckin’?

It’s a classic slogan and image from the counterculture, created in 1968 by cartoonist R. Crumb. (And if you aren’t humming the Grateful Dead classic “Truckin’,” you might need a little more music in your life!)

When I was a kid, I had the Keep on Truckin’ poster in my room. Don’t get the idea I was a genuine hippy. I was 9 years old. I just thought it was cool, in a middle-class white-boy sort of way. (It was right next to my own quasi-psychedelic hand-painted poster that said, “Jeff is groovy.” Signs of the times.)

I’d like to resurrect Keep on Truckin’ for fundraisers, because it’s a needed reminder for these strange times.

Here’s why:  We may be heading into difficult times for fundraising. It’s been hard … it might get harder before it gets easier.

But whatever is in store for us in the coming months, the motto to keep yourself steady and on target should be: Keep on Truckin’!

Keep working, working the plan, soldiering through — even if it’s difficult and weird.

Let’s look at some of the possible challenges we face. These are scary things that might happen in the near future. Each demands that we face it with smart and targeted strategies. But in addition, the main thing is not to curl up into a ball and hide. When times are hard, Keep on Truckin’.

The end of the “bump”

Fundraising typically thrives in times of crisis, at least for organizations connected with the crisis. The COVID-19 crisis has impacted nearly all organizations, either because it has created more demand for their work, or because it caused them to lose significant revenue — or both.

So there was a predictable “crisis bump” this Spring. Organizations that stayed in touch with donors and pivoted to pandemic-relevant fundraising experienced record-breaking fundraising. Many organizations basically had three Decembers in a row starting in April.

For many organizations, that amazing stretch of fundraising is fading. How much of that is because the energy of the crisis is less compelling for donors, and how much is because fundraisers simply haven’t been able to keep up the pace is not clear.

But fundraising is not as amazing as it was, at least for many of us. And it may continue to get worse.

When (or if) that happens, your strategy should be Keep on Truckin’!

Don’t decide for donors that they are done with the crisis. Keep on connecting with them, giving them good and relevant reasons to donate. You may not do as well as you did in the spring (that may never happen again in your career, frankly), but if you curtail fundraising, you are guaranteed an even greater drop in revenue.

A long-lasting slump

Past crises have often been followed by a general drop in fundraising results. As noted, we may be seeing this happening already. Also, fundraising typically gets more difficult during recessions. Response rates drop. So do average gifts, hitting us with a double-whammy.

The recession we are now in around the world will likely not end quickly. And that could mean difficult fundraising for some time.

If that happens, Keep on Truckin’!

Responding to difficulty by giving up is not a good strategy in any area of life.

If your cause is in any way connected to fighting poverty or helping people in need, you may find that you do quite well during a recession — because your message is more present and believable than ever. If you’re not in that area, you may face harder times. Just don’t make it even worse by going quiet on your donors.

Election craziness

In the past, noisy, weird elections have had a negative impact on fundraising. The 2000 US presidential election results were up in the air for about a month, and fundraising results during that time were atypically low.

I think we can count on this year’s election being at least that weird. Throw in the uncertainty about the US Postal Service, and more than a few of us are nervous.

But I bet you know what I’m going to say: Keep on Truckin’!

Shutting down and doing nothing will badly hurt your results. Going into uncertain times with your eyes open — it might hurt, but the damage won’t be nearly as deep.

Bottom line: I can’t think of any situation where the right response is to give up on your fundraising. You may have to move budgets around, refigure your schedule, and adjust your messaging. And none of that guarantees you won’t suffer.

But giving up does guarantee that you will suffer. A lot.

So please … Keep on Truckin’!

Keep on Truckin’ with fact-based, experienced fundraising training and advice — and by belonging to a community of fundraisers who share knowledge and connection. That’s what you’ll get when you join The Fundraisingology Lab by Moceanic. It’s a true community, the thing we all need most right now — plus all kinds of courses, templates, checklists, and other resources that can help you go to new places as a fundraiser. More information here.

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Fundraising

Your Calendar for Successful Year-End Fundraising

CLICK HERE to download this blog as a PDF: Your Calendar for Successful Year-End Fundraising.

It’s time to get on top of your year-end fundraising. For many organizations, December is go big or go home time — the month that makes it all work.

Is this year different?

There’s no question this COVID-19 year is atypical for almost all fundraisers. The biggest thing is what has happened for those who stayed active through the spring and summer: Most had record-breaking fundraising results. Many hit their full 2020 revenue goal in April or May.

An obvious next question is this: Has December already happened? Did donors simply move their year-end giving into the spring in response to the pandemic?

Answer: Almost surely not. Don’t second-guess your donors, assuming they won’t give. Field a strong year-end campaign for best results.

Here’s a suggested calendar to your end-of-year fundraising. Your exact dates will vary, depending on a lot of factors, but I hope this gives you a good starting place.

I hope it helps! CLICK HERE to get this blog as a PDF: Your Calendar for Successful Year-End Fundraising.

Jeff

SEPTEMBER & OCTOBER: Start early

There are two distinct reasons giving goes up at the end of the year:

  1. Offers that are specifically connected to the Holidays — Thanksgiving or Christmas meals, gifts for kids, etc. — are very compelling to many donors.
  2. The Holidays (basically US Thanksgiving up to New Year’s) are themselves reasons to give, even when there’s no connection with the Holidays themselves.

Your organization may have #1 as a factor for donors, but for sure you have #2.

If you have Holiday-related offers, start your Holiday fundraising early. Like early September. Maybe even earlier!

September is the sweet-spot for most gift-catalog fundraisers. “Get ready for the Holiday” appeals can do very well in this time.

It’s also the time for the Jewish High Holidays (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Simchat Torah), which this year start mid-September and go well into October.

NOVEMBER: Thanksgiving (US only)

Thanksgiving is an important holiday in the US, with deep emotional roots for many people. It is not far behind Christmas as an occasion for donating. It falls on the late side this year, November 26 (it ranges from the 22nd to the 28th).

If you’ve never done a Thanksgiving appeal, consider doing one this year.

The topic: Thankfulness. That’s right — remind your donors of the power and importance of being thankful and let them know that charitable giving is a great way to express gratitude. Connect gratitude with your cause in whatever way works.

An appeal like this can be very powerful when it authentically connects with the donor.

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER: Giving Tuesday

An email and/or social media campaign centered around Giving Tuesday can be quite strong. For many organizations, it is amongst the top digital fundraising campaigns of the year.

If you are cynical about Giving Tuesday, I don’t blame you. It’s an unusual occasion, but it continues to do well for a lot of organizations. It has somewhat successfully connected itself with the cluster of named days after Thanksgiving (Black Friday, Cyber Monday, etc.). The motive for donors seems to be “give today because everyone is giving.”

A minimalist Giving Tuesday campaign would have three parts:

  1. Monday: “Get ready for Giving Tuesday! Or get a jump on it and give now!”
  2. Tuesday: “Join the Giving Tuesday movement and donate now!” (Possibly more than one message this day.)
  3. Wednesday: “It’s not too late to make a Giving Tuesday donation!”

Some organizations start their Giving Tuesday campaign on the day after Thanksgiving.

Decision: “Holiday” or “Christmas”

Which do you and your donors celebrate? Unfortunately, in the US, this has become a bit of a political football. Fortunately, not many of your donors are active in that debate. What your organization chooses to call the season depends on the heritage and culture of your organization and your donors.

Just to be clear, “the Holidays” as a whole is a cluster of celebrations, most of them in December, including:

  • Hanukkah (starts December 10 this year)
  • Winter Solstice (December 21)
  • Christmas Day (December 25)
  • Kwanzaa (December 26)
  • Ramadan (migrates throughout the year; it won’t be in December until 2030)
  • New Year’s Day
  • Some Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on January 7

There’s also a handful of Christmas-related minor holidays celebrated by various communities:

  • Nicholas Day (December 6)
  • Lucia Day (December 13)
  • Las Posadas (December 16-24)
  • Epiphany (January 6)

However you approach it, the Holidays are a potent giving season. Most traditions include gift-giving, and many also emphasize kindness and charity at this time of year.

Use faith imagery and language as appropriate. If not, do use secular images, like candy canes, Santa Claus, holly, etc. These things remind donors of their own connection with the Holidays and can do very well.

LATE NOVEMBER – EARLY DECEMBER: Year End

Most fundraisers have a campaign that combines the Holidays with the Year End. This appeal usually mails just before or just after Thanksgiving, to assure the mail will arrive in the first part of December.

In many countries, a Year End appeal is strong because December 31 is a tax deadline. Recent changes to the tax laws in the US mean far fewer donors will bother to claim any charitable tax deductions, but it is an important deadline to stress anyway!

I don’t need to tell you this, but someone may need the reminder: Just because it’s a Holiday/Year End appeal doesn’t mean you can skip the fundraising basics! You still need a strong and specific call to action.

The fact alone that it’s a “giving time of year” is not the reason people give. They’re just more likely to think about giving than at other times.

MID-DECEMBER: Year End Follow-Up

Here’s a way you might increase that year-end campaign revenue: Add an extra appeal a week or two after the Year End appeal, using the same topic as the Year End appeal. Keep it simple, and scale back on the donors you mail — such as current (gifts in the last 12 months only) and possibly remove low-dollar donors.

This doesn’t work for everyone, but it’s an important appeal for many.

Another possible follow-up activity: A postcard, sent to donors who have made online donations, urging them to give online.

DECEMBER 26-31: Calendar Year End campaign

In the US and other countries with a December 31 tax deadline, the final week of the year is often by far when most giving happens. Do not neglect it!

Email several times, starting December 26. As often as every day. And email twice on December 31, the biggest online giving day of the year.

That’s a fundraiser’s year end! Share what you’re doing this year, what you’ve done in the past, and what has (and hasn’t) worked for you at this critical time.

CLICK HERE to download this blog as a PDF: Your Calendar for Successful Year-End Fundraising.

Want to get every single one of these appeals right? Join The Fundraisingology Lab by Moceanic. It’s a community of fundraisers who support each other by sharing information, ideas, and encouragement. Members also have access to the best tools, time-saving templates, practical courses and other great stuff to help you survive and thrive this year-end. Find out more now.

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WorkplaceFundraising

The Missing Ingredient That Might Be the Reason You and Your Colleagues Hate Your Job

I ask people all the time what they struggle with in fundraising. Distressingly often they tell me their biggest problem is their fundraising jobs. They love making the world a better place, but the job… it’s just not rewarding.

A lot of people hate their jobs. But why is it so common in fundraising? After all, we are doing some of the coolest stuff on the planet! We’re saving the world every day.

Why are so many people in fundraising depressed on Monday, buoyant on Friday, and recovering all weekend?

Mostly because they lack one (or both) of these critical workplace things:

Recognition and appreciation.

Recognition is being rewarded based on performance. Decent pay and regular raises, bonuses, promotions, awards. It also includes informal things like verbal or written thank-yous from bosses or others. We all need recognition. We are all motivated by it. Workplaces that don’t do a good job at recognition lose their best employees far too quickly.

But recognition has some problems:

  • It’s conditional. That means it comes and goes. You earn it.
  • It’s based on things you’ve already done.
  • It’s a limited resource. Not everyone can get the salary or recognition that they want or deserve.
  • It depends on really with-it leaders and managers and well-run organizations. You know how rare those can be!

So recognition, as important as it is, doesn’t consistently deliver what people need.

Appreciation is a different thing. It is about each person’s inherent value, not just their accomplishments. It’s their worth as a fellow human.

Think of it this way: recognition is about what people do at work. Appreciation is about who they are. It’s not conditional. It’s not a limited resource. And anyone can do it.

Everyone needs both.

Guess which one is more commonly missing in workplaces.

Let me tell you about two different places I worked in the past:

  • At one place, they weren’t so great at recognition. Salaries were on the low side. They were oddly stingy about promotions. They routinely messed up the small stuff, like fringe benefits — making you just feel angry and crappy. But they were amazing at appreciation. The bosses were available, open, and friendly. They seemed to actually like you and want to hang out with you. They talked a lot about individual employees, pointing out their strengths and great personalities. The place felt like a family — sometimes a dysfunctional family — but it was a place of connection and belonging.
  • The other workplace was very good at recognizing people. Salaries were high. So were bonuses. If you did your job well, you could expect regular promotions and raises. When the company did well (which it usually did), the employees did well. But there was almost no appreciation. Everyone worked with their heads down. You could make friends at work, but not so much with people above you in the hierarchy. It felt like being part of a machine. A well-oiled one, but still just a machine.

I worked at one of those places for four times as long as the other.

And I’ll bet you know which one: The place that was good at appreciation. Even though they often missed the mark on recognition.

That’s not just me. It’s what we all need. Appreciation matters. A lot.

If you are a leader or a manager, here are some things you can do to make your workplace better and full of positive energy. (And if you’re not a leader or manager, find a way to show them this list!):

  • Listen. This is the big one. Open your ears, your mind, and your heart. Really pay attention to what people say. Listen between the words, and you’ll hear what they need. But really, one of the things they need most is to be listened to.
  • Say something nice. Tell people what it is you value about them. Do this all the time. If it doesn’t come naturally to you, put it on your calendar.
  • Spend some time. Yes, you’re busy. But hang out with people. You’ll be amazed at what happens when you just spend time with people.
  • Check in. Ask people how they’re doing — and really mean it. Find out what’s bothering them, what’s making them happy, what makes them tick.

Even if you aren’t a boss, you can do these things. Appreciation does its magic no matter who does it. And it can spread.

Please share your experience with recognition and appreciation at your nonprofit jobs by leaving your reply below. We’d love to learn from your experience.

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Loch Ness Monster blog post
FundraisingCoronavirus

Is the Donor Fatigue Monster Hiding under Your Bed?

Most children go through a phase where they believe there’s a monster hiding under their bed. It lives only in their imagination, but it really terrifies them.

Why do they do that?

In all the history of the world, all the children in all the beds, has there ever been a monster?

[Jeff goes and checks under his bed, just to make sure.]

No. I’m quite confident there are no monsters under any of the beds.

Kids imagine monsters under the bed as a way of giving focus to their amorphous bedtime fears: fear of the dark, fear of being alone, fear of abandonment, etc. Those things are hard for them to understand, hard for them to describe.

So they create something concrete to focus on: A monster. Nearby, but out of sight.

In a way, that monster is a kind of comfort. It’s scary, but that may be easier to handle than the real fears that they don’t fully understand.

Fundraisers do the same thing.

They have plenty of things to be afraid of. Changing donor demographics and habits. Changing technology use. Rising costs. Leaders who don’t get it. And fundraising is just plain hard. All these things can sink your fundraising.

So we have created something to focus our fear on:

Donor fatigue.

Donor fatigue is a dark fantasy we fundraisers create in our minds to give focus to our fears.

Like the fears of children, some of our fears are not reasonable; they flow from our ignorance. But some of our fears are very real. It’s hard to tell the difference between the realistic fears and the unrealistic ones. That’s why a made-up bogey man like donor fatigue thrives in our profession, despite the fact that it doesn’t really exist.

Let’s start our conquest of the donor fatigue monster by describing it:

Donor fatigue is a theoretical condition in which donors — all of them, or at least an awful lot of them — get tired of giving and become measurably less responsive to fundraising. The extra-scary version has it that donors not only tire of giving, but turn against us fundraisers and opt out of all giving entirely because they’re so fed up with our fundraising. It’s usually described as fatigue about a specific topic — usually a famine or other large-scale disaster, but sometimes it’s giving in general.

Okay, no kidding. That’s super scary. If it ever actually happened, it would really be something to focus on.

But, as you’ll see, donor fatigue doesn’t really happen.

Except in one way, and this is what should worry you: If you believe in donor fatigue, it becomes real. (I’m pretty sure the monster under the bed never does that!)

Here’s how it works:  You believe in donor fatigue — you believe donors will not respond — so you don’t bother asking them to give.

Not being asked, they don’t give.

Presto! A monster materializes out of nowhere. Donor fatigue has become a reality!

But it’s not caused by donors. It’s caused by fundraisers.

The monster of the moment is “coronavirus fatigue.” It’s a belief that we’ve completely tapped out donors with our fundraising about the pandemic and its impacts. They’re just sick of it, and they will not respond!

I have not seen any evidence of this. Those fundraisers who are still putting out those messages are still doing well. Not all are getting the jaw-dropping results they were getting a few weeks ago, but they’re still doing better than normal.

So your best course of action is to ignore the monster under the bed. Continue raising funds. That is your path to success.

But let me throw you a curve: Something like donor fatigue really does happen sometimes.

For the scared kid, there’s no monster, but it might turn out there’s a spider under the bed — and what is a spider but a very small monster?

Your spider under the bed is this: As with all disasters, the pandemic and its aftermath will eventually fade as a motivating topic for donors. For all of us, there is coming a time when something other than the pandemic is more effective at moving donors to give.

That’s not an “if” — it will happen. We don’t know when. We’ve all been surprised at how long the high responsiveness to this crisis has lasted. Far longer than any other crisis in my career. My guess is that the drop in giving to pandemic messaging will happen at different times and different speeds depending on where you are and/or what fundraising sector you’re in.

Two things that will serve you well between now and when giving starts to dip:

  1. Keep your finger on the pulse of your donors. Until you see a steep drop in responsiveness to virus-related fundraising, you should keep doing it. But when that drop happens, be ready to pivot to other messages.
  2. Don’t decide for your donors that they are fatigued! That’s their decision, not yours.

I know you’re tired of talking about the pandemic. I sure am. But that’s not a reason to stop talking about it — if it is still a concern for your donors.

Base your fundraising on knowledge. Not on fears.

Don’t believe in donor fatigue just because someone says it’s happening — but they don’t offer evidence. And don’t believe it even though it feels believable.

Because when you fall for the donor fatigue myth, it will become a reality.

One of the best ways to keep your finger on the pulse of donors is to belong to a community of smart fundraisers who share knowledge. That’s what you’ll get when you join The Fundraisingology Lab by Moceanic. It’s a true community, the thing we all need most right now — plus all kinds of courses, templates, checklists, and other resources that can help you go to new places as a fundraiser. More information here.

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CoronavirusFundraising

[WEBINAR REPLAY] COVID-19: 5 Steps to Keep Your Fundraising Strong Through the Crisis

These are uncertain times and so much has changed in the last few weeks, but the team and I here at Moceanic are here to help.

I recently ran a free webinar on Facebook, COVID-19: 5 Steps to Keep Your Fundraising Strong Through the Crisis. Watch the replay below and discover how you CAN survive this unexpected crisis:

  • Learn how to avoid a fundraising catastrophe
  • Understand how you can take control of the situation
  • Discover how to recover lost events income
  • Key strategies for crisis and emergency campaigns
  • A free downloadable cheat-sheet: COVID-19 and Your Fundraising
  • Learn from what other fundraisers asked me during this live webinar

Discover how you can connect more with your donors, grow your fundraising income, and master your career. Join The Fundraisingology Lab and you join the thousands of smart fundraisers who are becoming EXTRAORDINARY FUNDRAISERS. Check it out.

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CoronavirusFundraising

COVID-19 and Your Cause

Some bosses are about to cripple their charity’s future with one bad decision around COVID-19.

Make sure your organisation is not one of those victims.

What can your cause expect (or may be experiencing) as COVID-19 spreads around the world? If you aren’t a frontline organisation for example, working with refugees, medical or an international aid organisation you may not have thought about the impact for you yet.

But you won’t escape unscathed.

I’ve identified several key areas where you could be impacted.

 

  1. Staff. The obvious one. The rate of infection is so high, we could end up with >40% of the population impacted. Nearly all should recover, but it will have disrupted a lot. Already, some Moceanic members in Italy are stuck away from home or even stuck in another country.
  2. Distribution chain. This was the quickest impact, since the virus spread initially in the world’s biggest manufacturing country.
  3. Fundraising events. This is happening already; today it depends on where you are as to whether you should postpone or cancel an event. Tomorrow may be different. Contingency plans are needed now.
  4. Face-to-Face fundraising programs. Is it responsible to employ teams to meet people in the streets right now? Will they welcome door to door canvassers? Short term… this will save you some cash flow. Long term… you need those donors!
  5. Paying customers. If you are an arts or education organisation, you will come under extra financial pressure.
  6. Beneficiaries. If you work to help groups such as the homeless, extra financial pressure is likely to be piled on as more become sick: and they are often more vulnerable than other groups.
  7. Corporate donors. Travel bans and cancellations are crippling travel businesses. Corporates will renege on donations before they cut exec salaries.
  8. Economic downturn. Huge falls in stock values. 7.1% in Australia yesterday, no recovery so far today. UK, HK, USA… same story. What does this mean for you?
  9. Major donors. May be worried about their investments. Reliance on a few, large gifts, is much scarier than a nice smooth level of income from a large group of smaller donations.

With any of these… the first reaction from many bosses at charities is the wrong one. The most devastating one which will leave your organisation a crippling and ongoing legacy.

If you have to make cuts – and you may have to… don’t cut fundraising. 

Don’t do it. As a fundraiser, fight tooth and nail to make sure the long term future of your organisation is protected.

It is more tempting than cutting services – but will lead to MUCH deeper cuts in services in the future.

What you SHOULD do, right now.

  1. Carry on with your fundraising. Your mailings, your digital campaigns. Spend MORE not less to make more.
  2. Acknowledge, mention and recognise COVID-19 in your copy but never in a way that could disincentivise giving to your cause right now. Eg. “You may be considering not donating because of COVID-19…”
  3. If your fundraising (or ticket sales) is down, or costs are up… This is a rare opportunity to do a financial crisis campaign. You really don’t want to do this often. I’ve worked on these before and have raised an average of a WHOLE YEARS worth of individual donations in one campaign.
  4. If your cause has reserves… this is what they are for. Use reserves before cuts.
  5. Fight tooth and nail to protect – and increase – fundraising investment.
  6. DUMP every activity that has no evidence of having a financial return…

One of the most important things you can do right now to prepare is be part of a strong community of fundraisers. When we have each other — to share advice, to ask questions, to support those hit hardest — we are all better.

That’s why I STRONGLY urge you to check out The Fundraisingology Lab. Discover how you can connect more with your donors, grow your fundraising income, and master your career! Find out more here.

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VIDEO: Bass Players and Fundraisers – the Real Thing

I play the double bass. That’s the biggest, lowest string instrument in the orchestra. It’s the one that rests on the floor while the player stands or perches on a tall stool to play. Yep — that’s me.

Let me be the first to admit that it’s not a glamorous instrument.

There’s not a lot of drama, flash, stardom, or glory. You hardly ever play a solo. In fact, a lot of what you do is hardly noticed by listeners.

But without the bass, music just doesn’t work. Whether it’s the symphony or the latest pop, everyone would notice if the bass were missing.

Bass players are a lot like fundraisers in that way.

Not the stars, not the focus, not what people think of when they think about the work of nonprofit organizations.

But the nonprofit world would be in terrible shape without us!

That’s why I want to encourage you, as a fundraiser, to be proud of the less-visible, less-praised work we do.

Be proud of your own work, and support your fellow fundraisers. We need each other!

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Help! I Did Everything Right, but My Fundraising Still Didn’t Work!

It’s so exciting to watch: Someone gets some solid fundraising advice. They put it to work.

Results come in: “We doubled the response!”

I hear about this a lot. Really, a lot. Doubling. Tripling. Even more.

But not always.

Now and then, someone tells me, “We followed the recommendations, and our results hardly improved at all!”

When I look into it, I sometimes see that they didn’t really follow the advice or best practices they were given. It was on the right path, but not strong enough.

But more often, the reason the project didn’t do as well as they hoped was this: They don’t have the number of appropriate donors it takes to light up their world.

It’s that simple. It’s the number of the ‘right’ type of donors.

Often, their low number of donors is disguised by the fact that they have a much larger mailing list than donor list. They have a big list that includes people like…

  • Beneficiaries of their services who are not donors.
  • People who donated to event participants or peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns.
  • People who signed up for an online newsletter or other free resource and have not yet made a donation.
  • People who have only ever made a donation in memory or honor of someone.
  • Donors who haven’t made a gift in two or more years.

You may call some of these groups ‘donors’, but these people are unlikely to give again. No matter how great a job you do at asking them.

It’s not your work that’s the problem. It’s your list. It’s too many people who are unlikely to donate.

What can you do about it?

  1. Get expert advice. It’s a complex situation, and there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.
  2. Get Moceanic Coaching+. We can work individually and directly with you on who you should be communicating with and how.

If it happens to you, don’t beat yourself up! It may be them (your list packed with non-donors), not you!

And finally, remember this: When something goes wrong, it is a major opportunity to learn something new. Sometimes, failure like this turns out to be positive in the long-run!

Wondering if Coaching+ is right for you? Book a free 25-minute call with one of our Fundraisingologists. They will give you great free advice, and help you identify which Coaching+ program might be right for you.

Related posts to read:

Here’s a Powerful New Way to Be a More Effective Fundraiser

9 Truths about Fundraising I Wish I Had Figured Out Sooner

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Fundraising

VIDEO: Fundraiser’s Guide to the Australian Fires — and Other Disasters

The Australian multi-state bushfires are an emergency of mind-boggling proportions.

It calls for response.

And donors around the world are responding.

Emergency fundraising is different. It has its own “rules” and calls for a rather different strategy from normal fundraising. And it has impact on almost everyone, whether you raise funds for the emergency or not.

This emergency has another unfortunate distinctive: Unlike an earthquake a major storm, it is not a quick hit that fades from awareness right away. In fact, the fires are likely to burn for months. That means the urgency to act immediately is lessened. But it also means we will likely struggle with a kind of “donor fatigue” as it comes and goes from the headlines.

Watch the video for more about what you should do in response to an emergency.

Here’s a quick look at what you should be doing:

  • If you are an Australian organisation with work impacted by the fires: This is your time. You should put a lot of effort into your fundraising. Do things right, and you will get new donors, and more revenue from your current donors. But your new donors will have a very low retention rate. See the video for how you can deal with that.
  • If you are an organisation outside Australia with work in the fire areas: This is also your time, but it is likely to fade sooner. Act quickly.
  • If you are an organisation involved in fighting climate change: Because the fires are among the most dramatic signs of climate change, you should emphasise this crisis in your fundraising.
  • If you are an organisation that has nothing to do with the fires: Keep calm and carry on! You may see somewhat lower results to your fundraising efforts — or you may not. But don’t decide for donors that they aren’t interested in your cause too while the fires burn. Cancelling fundraising activities will do far more damage than the fires can. (If you have a lot of donors living in and around fire-affected areas, you may experience more extreme losses of your fundraising.)

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Want extra help dealing with this or any other disaster? Join The Fundraisingology Lab for the best training and most helpful community in our profession!

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