Focus On: The Economy: Determining the Ask
“They’re giving donors different opportunities these days,” Lys-akowski notes. “Rather than just asking for a $50,000 gift, they might ask for a $10,000 pledge for each of the next five years.
“Some organizations are approaching their boards and asking them to make a group commitment instead of an individual pledge,” she continues. “This makes it easier for business people on the board whose businesses aren’t doing as well as they have in the past.”
Schatzle says The Ocean Conservancy’s fundraising strategy has remained essentially the same but that donors are approached very carefully.
“We’re aware that our donors are dealing with the economy just as our organization is,” he says. “When talking to our donors, it’s important for us to be diplomatic and sensitive to the economic position they’re in. But there still are plenty of people who have wealth and the desire to support the mission of worthy nonprofit organizations.”
Other tips from the AAFRC:
- Talk frequently with donors to find out what they’re thinking about the difficult economy and how it’s affecting their ability to make charitable donations. Many of them will still make generous donations despite the economy because they care deeply about the work an organization does. Messages on organization Web sites and at actual facilities are a good way to acknowledge donor generosity.
- When board members, CEOs and other top staffers feel it isn’t the right time to do fundraising, development executives must be prepared to respond with a combination of gentle persuasion, budget figures and solid information about philanthropic trends.
- Don’t interrupt the direct mail and telemarketing cycles. Organizations might need to revise the timing somewhat, but they shouldn’t cancel or delay the full schedule of appeals.
The AAFRC predicts that organizations with strong mission-driven programs and values are least likely to suffer a defection of donors.