Focus On: Immediate-Response Fundraising: Hope to Carry On
Many groups with upcoming fundraisers are wondering how to proceed when the need after Hurricane Katrina is so great. Many wonder if they can ask for money for a theater or for children overseas when tens of thousands of people in this country have lost their homes and livelihood.
The answer is yes, they can.
Loyal donors don’t slip away in a crisis. They seem to have a special extra pocket out of which they give for disasters in addition to their regular giving. In its latest report on the state of philanthropy, Illinois-based Giving USA found that the 2004 tsunami had a negligible impact on fundraising in this country. As Jon Guy, the major-gifts officer for American Refugee International in Minneapolis told me, when kids came to them with a wad of cash for tsunami victims, it was new money raised, not money diverted from another cause.
There’s not a limited pool of money in the world, but rather a large untapped supply. For the last 40 years, Americans have spent an average of 2.2 percent of their net income on philanthropy, according to Giving USA, but there’s no reason that number couldn’t be doubled.
Even in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, it’s important for all nonprofits to stay focused on their upcoming fundraising plans. If the nonprofit is doing relief work related to the hurricane, it’s especially important not to cancel the event, because this is a perfect time to explain to donors what the organization is doing. For other nonprofits, it’s important to acknowledge the disaster and, when possible, naturally link their mission to it in some way.
There is a massive outpouring of compassion right now, and the general awareness of philanthropy is heightened. People want to be reminded of work that matters, whether it’s hurricane-related or not.