Seven Disaster Fundraising Don’ts
During times of disaster, it can be hard for organizations to get their messages heard. At Fundraising Day in New York in late June, Dennis Lonergan addressed the problem as co-presenter of a session on making your organization’s voice heard above the din.
Taking advantage of all of your organization’s modes of communication to make its message heard during these times is challenging but crucial, said Lonergan, principal at New York City-based Eidolon Communications, a direct-marketing and member-communications consulting firm specializing in nonprofit, advocacy and political groups.
In his presentation, Lonergan walked attendees through key steps to developing messaging and getting the message out, from defining the “din” you’re dealing with and your organization’s role in the event, to connecting your organization’s cause to the disaster.
Lonergan also stressed seven things to avoid when faced with an emergency situation.
1. Don’t anticipate failure. Just because your organization might not be 100 percent part of the story doesn’t mean you don’t have something to say.
2. Don’t use the din as an excuse to not fundraise or to lower your goals. “A campaign deferred is a campaign defeated,” Lonergan said. While it might seem like the noble thing to do to hold off on your organization’s fundraising efforts, if you operate by that mind set there will always be an excuse to not fundraise.
3. Don’t disappear from donors’ consciousness. If donors don’t hear from you, it just opens a window for other organizations to make their messages more top of mind. Even if your issue isn’t on the front pages, remind donors that it still is relevant to their lives.
4. Don’t sell your cause short or apologize for your need, Lonergan said. “The people you serve are as hungry, or as homeless, or as in jeopardy today as they were before this disaster struck,” he reminded.
5. Don’t be swayed by a single board member or major donor who has a heightened sense of fear or caution with regards to the disaster or how your organization positions itself in light of it. “Don’t just listen to one worried apple,” Lonergan said.
6. Don’t make assumptions that undermine your organization’s need for support. Don’t assume donors won’t care about your cause, related or not, during times of disaster.
7. Don’t base your organization’s decisions on unverified information, e.g., “I’ve heard that most mailers have postponed their campaigns.”
Dennis Lonergan can be reached via www.eidolonnyc.com