Marc A. Pitman, director, Inland Foundation, Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems; founder and principal, fundraisingcoach.com
I think one of the biggest challenges fundraisers had to face in 2009 was sticking to the basics. I think we got sloppy in the preceding years … particularly in the area of stewardship. I think many were shocked to realize that what they'd considered "stewardship" wasn't seen as that by donors. I suspect that organizations that chose to ramp up their communications efforts during this past year will fare better as our economy recovers.
Another great challenge I see for nonprofits is the temptation to cut their fundraising efforts or staff. While a downturn can be a convenient time, a handy excuse, to make cuts that are long overdue, marketing and fundraising efforts still need to be robust. The return will come. The ROI will be there, although it might not be in the fiscal year.
Todd Baker, vice president and senior strategist, Grizzard
The charities that are growing in today's environment are those that are positioned well and clearly defined in their category. They have continued to strengthen their relevancy with donors by providing timely information about themselves in relation to current events. These organizations are harnessing the power of donor behavior to acquire and inspire them to do more and be more through a brand experience. They consistently communicate a vision of the donor standing side by side with the organization, which positions the donor as part of the solution, and by doing so, the donor finds meaning and purpose — for few things in life are more important, or more powerful, than leading people to such remarkable moments of self-discovery.
Our sector desperately needs strategy — collectively we need to infuse a new way of thinking about fundraising. Many charities are simply copying each other's tactics without an understanding of how it may help or hurt their positioning in the hearts and minds of their constituents.