To: Geoff Peters
I enjoyed your article in FundRaising Success (“Fundraising and the Economy,” January). Couldn’t have come out at a better time. Your explanation of the two most vulnerable channels is insightful, and your multichannel point is right on target.
One question: You note accurately that people can be even more generous during times when poverty issues are in the media, yet you appear to say in the next paragraph that international NGOs and domestic human-services charities are likely to be hardest hit. Am I reading that wrong?
Our experience, because of the very point you make, is that local rescue missions and food banks do very well in hard times because people are more aware of the needs they face. This past fall, our rescue mission and food bank clients had strong results. And even our international charities (e.g., World Vision and Operation Smile) have continued to have strong results. Note that WV and Op Smile are also benefitting from reduced media costs as advertising demand has weakened. We get bargain-basement prices for them so even if the response softens, the cost drops more and the client does well.
— Tom Harrison, President and CEO, Russ Reid
Author's response: It is a double-edged sword — people tend to favor brand-name charities over local ones, but they also like to give locally where they can see the effects. They also tend to give to what is in the news.
Your experience that local rescue missions do very well in hard times is contrary to my experience where local groups in response to surveys done in December said they were off one-third or more, while national groups were either dead even or up or down [just] slightly. Thus, I wrote that national groups do better and that publicity for the cause helps — both of which I thought were true. Your experience regarding local may be more accurate, since I have no local clients at all. All of mine are national, and I was relying upon some surveys done of nonprofits.