Trust in Donors in Times of Emergency
The key component that catapults an issue to a level that justifies emergency fundraising efforts for international relief and development organization Mercy Corps is media attention, says Julie Hambuchen, marketing director for the organization.
“In the real world out there, there are crises that are ongoing and really dire, but until they get that conjunction of media coverage and become a crisis in the public perception … we don’t really start an emergency campaign,” Hambuchen says. “There are not that many [crises] that really rise to this level of an issue that can really be successful as a true emergency fundraising campaign.”
Mercy Corps carefully watches which crises it initiates emergency fundraising for, not just so it doesn’t saturate its donor base with non-stop emergency appeals but also because going out with an emergency campaign is an investment. The organization considers whether an issue has received enough media attention to generate enough of a response from the public.
Hambuchen says if she could share anything with other organizations in regards to emergency fundraising, it is to never underestimate the generosity of donors in emergency situations. Beginning with the tsunami in 2004, and then Hurricane Katrina and the earthquake in Pakistan in 2005, Hambuchen says there was a lot of fear among fundraisers that donors would be fatigued or tapped out. What Mercy Corps and other organizations found was an incredible outpouring of generosity from donors.
“We found that instead of being tired and tapped out, our donors became more generous because of that added need. If the donors believe in the mission of your organization and they trust your organization to do good work and [see it] addressing the pressing needs that they are witnessing in their world, they’ll trust you with more donations,” Hambuchen says.
Julie Hambuchen can be reached via www.mercycorps.org