Does Your Nonprofit Have Backup Plans?
For the past few years, my husband and I have been escaping to the sunshine for a week or two. We discovered the Phoenix area as one that typically sees great weather in February/March.
With COVID-19 and our vaccine shots, we had to juggle our schedule, so this year we arrived in Phoenix during spring training. On a Saturday afternoon! Definitely not the best time to arrive!
The lines for the car rentals were out the door and we could see the writing on the wall. Sure enough, after waiting in line for half an hour, someone in the front of the line told us that there were no cars available, even with reservation in hand.
Both my husband and I are planners, so the minute we saw the line, we had started formulating Plan B. While I stood in line, he scouted out some of the other car rental facilities to see if they had anything. Nope, same problem. One recommended checking outside of the airport.
So we went to Plan C. Was there anything available outside of the airport? Googling brought up a few companies. The first one wanted a prepaid debit card… available at a Walmart or something like that. Not sure how you’d get that when you’re standing at an airport without wheels.
The second company we called not only answered the phone, but they also had cars available, and they even paid for our cab to get there! One hour later, we had a car, and we were on our way to our hotel. Granted, it was not a new car, but we were staying local so that worked out just fine. We were ready to start our vacation!
What does this have to do with fundraising and monthly gifts?
Well, if there’s one year that fundraisers had to think of a Plan B, Plan C, Plan D, and perhaps even Plan E or Plan F, it was this past year.
Monthly donors offer that security blanket, that ongoing revenue that you need to keep the lights on, keep your mission going. Especially those organizations that depend on big events, they had to quickly create other plans. Fundraisers not only had to start working from home, but they also had to create direct mail campaigns, add email campaigns and other digital communication; pick up the phone again; and project how to make up for lost income. And fortunately for all of us, postal workers, printers, mail houses and data-entry facilities were considered essential!
We humans are flexible, but it sure works well if you have a Plan B or Plan C in place. Of course, the more monthly donors you have, the more money you can count on and the less you’re dependent on other fundraising sources.
So look at your fundraising plan for this and next fiscal year. How many donors do you have? How many of them are giving monthly? How many sources of revenue do you depend on? What is your plan if foundations stop sending you that $50,000 grant? What is your Plan B or Plan C? What have you done? What have you not yet tried?
This is a great time to try just those things, especially if the investment is minimal (like monthly giving). It may just become your next approach and help you keep your mission going!
Erica Waasdorp is one of the leading experts on monthly giving. She is the president of A Direct Solution, a company serving nonprofit organizations with fundraising and direct marketing needs, with a focus on monthly giving and appeals. She authored "Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant" and "Monthly Giving Made Easy." She regularly blogs and presents on fundraising, appeals and monthly giving — in person and through webinars. She is happy to answer any questions you may have about this great way of improving retention rates for your donors.
Erica has over 30 years of experience in nonprofits and direct response. She helped the nonprofits she works with raise millions of dollars through monthly giving programs. She is also very actively supports organizations with annual fund planning and execution, ranging from copywriting, creative, lists, print and mail execution.
When she’s not working or writing, Erica can be found on the golf course (she’s a straight shooter) or quietly reading a book. And if there’s an event with a live band, she and her husband, Patrick, can be found on the dance floor. She also loves watching British drama on PBS. Erica and Patrick have two step sons and a cat, Mientje.