Franklin Forum: Nonprofit Pros Share Advice on Weathering the Economic Downturn
The future of fundraising was the main topic at the plenary session at the Franklin Forum, sponsored by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Philadelphia Chapter in Philadelphia in late April. While none of the speakers were quite sure exactly what the future of fundraising would look like, they all agreed that it would never be the same.
Therefore, it's vital that organizations get themselves ready for what might lay on the other side of the current economic crisis. Moderator and TV journalist Mary Caraccioli cautioned attendees that the challenges they're currently facing likely will be with them for a while.
"You can fight it or think about how you can strategize," she said.
Plenary speaker Kenneth Kirby, senior vice president of development at Main Line Health System, said organizations need to let donors know how they’re doing in light of the economy, and ask them how they're doing, too. The economy provides a unique opportunity for engagement with donors, he said, adding that organizations should gather major donors and have face-to-face conversations with them to ask for advice on strategies to net more major gifts.
Kirby said the economic downturn has led to a reluctance to ask for gifts by staff, board members and volunteers. It's what he called the "psychology of reluctance," which has created a fair amount of paralysis when it comes to fundraising lately. What's more, many in leadership have been less available, as most leaders are so busy trying to figure out how to get through these tough times.
The psyche of the donor also has changed, with donors now looking at giving as an investment strategy. Donors want very serious assurances that the organizations they give to are in line with fundraising best practices. Kirby said many organizations are, but they fail to communicate that to donors. It’s a message that is important to communicate now more than ever.