If you follow philanthropy news, you’ve seen the headlines: “2022 Worst Year Ever for Fundraising!” “2023 Shaping Up to Be Even Worse!”
Before you run screaming for the hills, consider these three observations:
News Loves Doom and Gloom
Yes, news does love doom and gloom. One glance at any news site’s headlines will confirm that fact. So don’t panic. Take a deep breath. Go for a walk outside. Focus on the good things your organization is experiencing right now. And keep your fundraising challenges in perspective.
Fundraising: A Broad Category
“Fundraising” is a broad category and covers a lot of territory. Keep in mind that when the media reports “fundraising” is down, that includes a lot of $10 online donations. In other words, not the kind of fundraising you are focused on. If you’ve been cultivating donor relationships, building your endowment, and stewarding your legacy donors, you don’t have much to worry about. Your program will be just fine.
The Bottom Isn't Such a Bad Place
All things considered, the bottom isn’t such a bad place. Why? Because when you’re at the bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up. So if fundraising truly is at an all-time low, that means it’s only going to get better from here—and that’s great news. So focus on the positive, and don’t get bogged down in negative news cycles.
Stress Test for Charities?
This may sound harsh, but Covid was sort of a stress test for charities. A lot of organizations suffered. Many suffered because they had not been incorporating best practices; because they delayed starting a planned giving program for too long (or flat-out refused to begin one); and because they didn’t do the work to build a strong board.
You who are reading this passed the stress test. That means you’re positioned to thrive in the coming years.
So my advice?
Ignore the headlines. Keep making stewardship a priority. Expand your planned giving program. Tackle fundraising challenges head-on.
And while others head straight toward the iceberg while they’re busy rearranging deck chairs, you’ll be able to breathe a sigh of relief as your organization easily navigates the rough waters and enjoys the kind of smooth sailing that comes with experience, preparation, and a robust planned giving program.