Lessons From the Front Lines of Disaster Fundraising
The reaction of donors was the organization's main concern when a 7.6
magnitude earthquake shook Pakistan in October 2005. More specifically,
Hambuchen said Mercy Corps was concerned that its donor base, already
seemingly stretched thin by tsunami and Katrina fundraising, would be tapped out. And what of the organization's usual trove of direct-mail holiday appeals almost set to drop? In the end, the organization decided to go back to its donors a third time. Its reasoning was twofold. One, it's in the organization's mission to respond to disasters, so it's what donors would expect it to do. Second, Mercy Corps realized that its donor base is made up of people who would feel compelled to give to people in need, so if Mercy Corps didn't ask them for funds, donors would end up giving to another organization instead. Hence, Lesson Three, Hambuchen said, is to never underestimate donors. You may have a suspicion that they're tired and tapped out, but you can't just assume that they are. For Mercy Corps and other disaster-relief organization fundraising in 2005, donors met and exceeded each challenge.
In the final point of her presentation, Hambuchen stressed that organizations follow media coverage and disaster fundraising by telling the public what they've done with donor dollars. Don't just respond to inquiries and wait for donors and the public to ask, she added -- be proactive and show that the nonprofit community is accountable to donors and the general public.