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Fundraising in Uncertain Times May 20, 2009 Presented By: Carol Weisman Produced By: Society for Nonprofit Organizations. Fundraising in Uncertain Times. I’m so pleased you are going to bring your bridge group on our special “behind the scenes tour!”.

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Fundraising in Uncertain TimesMay 20, 2009

Presented By: Carol WeismanProduced By: Society for Nonprofit Organizations

Fundraising in Uncertain Times

I’m so pleased you are going to bring your bridge group on our special “behind the scenes tour!”

Of course your Argentinean uncle can make a donation in honor of your son’s graduation on our website!

Of course we take Credit cards. We’d be glad to put $50/month on your card to help our cause.

Fund raising isn’t easy in the best of times. (But you already knew this!) In uncertain times, you need to go back to the basics, but you might have to change the mix. It’s a little like high altitude baking.
Do not make assumptions!

With 8-10% unemployment, that means 90-92% employment.

Also, many people are reprioritizing and reconsidering how they use their discretionary income. That might be good news for your organization!

what are uncertain times
What are “uncertain times?”

Uncertain times are when people either have less money to give or perceive themselves to be economically vulnerable.

the big picture
The Big Picture
  • We are a global community. This is true for the spread of disease and for philanthropy. You need to think of your organization as global.
  • More nonprofits-more than twice the number in 15 years.
  • Churches still get the largest percentage of our charitable giving.
  • Misfortune comes in many forms
    • Communities can be devastated by natural disasters such as the fires in California and Melbourne, Australia or the Tsunami in Asia.
    • Individuals and foundations can be taken unawares by crooks like Bernie Madoff.
    • Decline can come slowly as with the economies of Detroit and other manufacturing cities
  • While there is bad news, there is also good news.
    • Chattanooga has a new Volkswagen plant. Jobs are being created and capital is going into the community.
    • With the sale of Anheuser Busch to InBev, hundreds of millions of dollars were paid out to shareholders.
    • If you’re are in the repo or bankruptcy biz, you are doing well.
The latest stats on giving in America

From the Association of Fundraising Counsel:

$260 Billion Given

Corporations gave 5%

Individuals gave 75%

Foundations gave 12%

Bequests resulted in 7%

What it means to be a millionaire….

Lets say a donor lost 50% of a 2 million dollar portfolio. Your donor now has 1 million. You might think this is a lot of money, and it is. However, if she but plans to live off the interest for the rest of her life, at 5%, she is looking at $50,000 a year and might be scared. It will take a while before she starts giving again. If she has isn’t employed, the thought of losing even more might be paralyzing. The old lightning might strike twice, or three times, theory.

if you don t have a strategy that involves soliciting individuals why not
If you don’t have a strategy that involves soliciting individuals, why not?

An individual approach should have a heart and head component

Buying has changed

We buy on credit.

We will also give on credit.

The wealthy will give on a credit card and so will those of modest means.

If you can’t take credit cards, you need to make it happen NOW.

Make fundraising part of every board meeting by having a “mission moment,” celebrating a victory, sharing a need etc. Be deliberate.
What kind of continuing education is your staff getting in fundraising? For board members listening to this webinar, training such as this should be a part of your annual budget. For staff, don’t forget to include it!
board commitment letter
Board Commitment Letter
  • Attendance policy
  • Financial expectations
  • Committee assignment
  • Role in special events
  • Send two copies, one for board member, one for office
the three steps in fundraising
The three steps in fundraising:

1. Cultivation

2. The Ask

3. Stewardship

cultivation in uncertain times
Cultivation in uncertain times

People are wary. They need to know more about your organization. It takes longer to cultivate your donors now. You have to spend more time letting your potential givers get to know what you do and how you do it. The exception is nonprofits with well known brands who are responding to a specific crisis.

web based cultivation
Web based cultivation

1. Sending a news clipping to friends, donors and supporters

2. Researching a potential donor

3. Looking for funding sources

4. Creating an e-zine or blog

5. Putting event photos on your web site

6. Writing informational articles for your web site

7. Writing e-books that can be sold

high touch cultivation
High touch cultivation

1. Invite a friend, relative or business associate to the agency

2. Have a meeting of a group you are involved in at the charity and organize a tour

3. Have an “at home” and have a rep from the organization tell the story

4. Initiate a lunch, dinner or other visit with a “closer” and a potential donor

5. Invite a potential donor to a special event

mass market cultivation
Mass Market Cultivation
  • Write an article for publication. Don’t forget the national media and the web based media. Connect your organization with breaking news. (Remember Carol & Warren)

2. Go on the speaking circuit. Rotary, churches, temples, Junior League etc. NEVER leave without getting their contact info including e-mail address. Remember to ask for more than money…time, volunteers, clients.

the ask in difficult times
The ask in difficult times

Keep asking. Stress that others are having a rough time. Talk about building a bigger pie, digging deeper. Another point that will resonate is good stewardship of funds. Don’t gang up on donors. This is time for a velvet touch, not a hammer.

the ask
The Ask

1. The folks who ask for money need to study the case and know how to overcome objections. There is a different rhythm to development than other sales processes.

2. Set up meetings with clients, friends and other potential donors with someone who can fill in pieces of the case that you don’t know.

Mass Market Ask

1. Work with someone who knows the case and then close the sale at speaking events. Create a powerful tag-team approach. Tell your story and ask the audience to get involved.

2. This works in person, on video, can be on the web, sent to TV stations, DVD, shown by others at home events and in offices etc.


1. Thank people often, creatively, graciously and cheaply!

2. According to researcher Penelope Burk, as high as 94% of all donors will give a second gift and a larger gift if thanked by a board member!

3. When you thank a donor, instead of asking for more money, consider asking for more information and advice!

change in stewardship in uncertain times
Change in stewardship in uncertain times:

More important than ever before. People are feeling fragile. Make sure you not only thank them, but follow up with how their money is being spent.

traditional ways to thank folks
Traditional Ways to Thank Folks
  • Hand written thank you notes
  • Phone calls
  • Lunches, dinners, thank you events
  • Naming buildings, walls, rocks, animals, plants, anything that is nailed down or not nailed down after the donor.
  • Remember, these are tried and true and work on the Millionaire next door!!!
Other Ways to get involved in stewardship:

Behind the scenes tour

Ask to be involved in a focus group (people love to give their opinion even more than money!)

With permission, publicize the gift with the media, internally, on your website.

collect e mails and keep them current
Collect e-mails and keep them current

You can do this using free or low- cost e-mail list server software that is available from google/yahoo/ISPs. You then have the ability to use your list to cultivate donors, request funds, thank your supporters, and keep your donors informed.

make it easy to give a memorial or celebratory donation online
Make it easy to give a memorial or celebratory donation online

You need to be able to make giving easy. It should take under 5 minutes to make a donation online. In addition to making a donation, your donor needs to be able to sign up for more information or to opt out. A “snail mail” as well as an e-mail notification should be sent to both the donor and recipient using an auto-responder.

When friend and client Denise Harris Nuehring had to put down her beloved dog Emily, I was working in Australia. In about 3 minutes, I was able to send a donation to the Humane Society near Denise. By the time I returned home, I had a receipt and a lovely note from Denise.

Use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to let your donors know about your site

SEO is the science and art of getting your name to pop to the top of the list when you search for a specific topic. You can purchase words through Google and your name will pop up on the right of the search, depending on what you pay. You can also use words in specific places to get higher rankings.

If you are a nonprofit day care center in Detroit, you might want to purchase, “Detroit day care,” as well as 10 other combinations of words people might Google. Or, if you want to reach out to donors and clients, and you are a hospice, you might want the links for “hospice San Francisco.”

set up a google alert for your major donors
Set up a Google Alert for your major donors

This is incredibly simple. You go to and follow the instructions. You will receive an e-mail when donors’ names appear anywhere on the web. Then write a note or make a call to acknowledge events. It might be the opening of a new office, the marriage of a child or the death of a parent.

You will also want to type in the name of your organization as well as your own name to find out when you are mentioned.

If you try this, you will appreciate having a unique name like Cassandra Smyrniotis rather than a common one like John Smith.

suggestions to tweak your fundraising plan
Suggestions to Tweak Your Fundraising Plan
  • Don’t expect 5 year gifts. Think 3 years.
  • Acknowledge that times are tough. And that is why your donor should increase their gift.
  • Plan to spend more time on effort cultivation and stewardship
  • Keep asking
  • Train your board on the process of fundraising. Remind them that its not an event.
have your wish list available
Have your wish list available:

In your newsletter


In your waiting room

In the newsletters of contributors

In the holiday letters of staff, board & volunteers

In hotels, restaurants

On the beach

In bathroom stalls……

additional resources for training
Additional Resources for Training: for a free newsletter The National Association for Fundraising Professionals BoardSource (formerly the National Center for Nonprofit Boards)

produced by
Produced By:

Society for Nonprofit Organizations5820 Canton Center Rd, Ste #165Canton, MI 48187Email: [email protected]: www.snpo.orgPh: 734-451-3582 | Fax: 734-451-5935