How the Recession Improved Our Lives
It's easy to say "We must never take our donors for granted," but harder to do when we aren't feeling the guillotine called "Recession" rubbing against our necks. But look at what you are doing differently now in the "thank you" department. Did your donors feel a positive difference? Can you really afford to give that up?
Looking closer to home for donors
Perhaps one way you kept your work funded during the recession was to work harder to reactivate lapsed donors. If so, you should be grateful to Wall Street for helping you rediscover a great source of "new" supporters.
When times are good, it's easy to write off lapsed donors as a "cost of doing business." Sure it is, but just like the grocery store that turned down its lights to conserve energy and found it didn't hurt sales, we can keep doing things that reduce our expenses even when the pressure is off. Continue your strategy - or develop one - to renew lapsed donors. And don't just keep sending them the same old, same old (and then complain my suggestion didn't work). Lapsed donors have become adept at ignoring you; what are you going to do that shakes them up and rekindles their excitement for your mission?
Making "creative" the norm, not the exception
When donors were scrutinizing every spending decision, parting with dollars a lot less freely, many nonprofits got very creative. It was no longer good enough to say, "Support our cause. We'll do good things with your money. Trust us." Instead, we figured out dollar handles that had evaded us for years. Program staff and fundraisers came together and developed ways to "sell" the work to donors that made sense to everyone.
Perhaps we cared more about the stories, knowing that we couldn't just rely on a few facts to generate a gift. Hearts and heads were both engaged, and our mailings and e-mails stood out not because they were more expensive, but more engaging. How can you keep that creative passion alive even if it's not essential for survival ?
Pamela Barden is an independent fundraising consultant focused on direct response. You can read more of her fundraising columns here.