WEEK OF NOVEMBER 17th. On down days Grandma Craver attempted to brighten life with the reminder. “Cheer up, Roger. Things could be worse.” Well, this week they got worse, at least where the economy and fundraising is concerned. The warning bells of impending fundraising doom are sounding with more and more frequency and volume. Increasing numbers of organizations and consultants are predicting or acknowledging more gloom than they were just a week ago.

We released the results of the second of The Agitator’s Vital Signs Survey yesterday and sure enough the predictions were far gloomier than those of two weeks ago. 62% of the responding non-profits expect the last quarter of ’08 to be down by 10% or more compared with results a year ago. Only 19% of non-profits expect ’08 returns to be down less than 10%. All in all, this week 81% of the respondents expected a poorer year-end, whereas a few weeks ago the number stood at 58%.

Monday: DonorTrends Whitepaper #2: The Giving ProcessThe Agitator released the second in its new series of DonorTrends White Papers. These papers are available exclusively to subscribers to The Agitator’s new Premium service.The second paper is titled Giving Across Generations: The Giving Process. It explores the charitable giving attitudes and behavior of three segments of US donors – the Seniors, Boomers and Newbies.

Tuesday: You’re Not Alone!As reported here by the Washington Post, Obama plans to augment the traditional weekly national radio message from the President with a video-version distributed via YouTube. Other interactive online tactics are planned as well, drawing from communications experience gained during the campaign. Whether all this produces authentic participation, or just more sophisticated message management, time will tell.The first message from President–elect Obama was delivered a week ago and can be found on YouTube. As one of our readers contributes, “So far plain-vanilla (a talking head). It’ll be interesting to see if/how he really uses the medium to further understanding of the message.”

Wednesday: Motrin: A Lesson In Issue CampaigningThe recent controversy over a Motrin ad provides a great case study for issue advocacy of the future.

Thursday: The Video-Centric NonprofitAs Dave Dutch explains in his MediaPost article, “…Web video’s real potential is not in watching "Lost" or "The Office" online or even downloading those shows to your cell phone or iPod. It’s about giving consumers what they want in the most engaging medium available.” In the midst of a depressing economy — to retain and energize your best donors, harnessing the power of online video is an affordable and compelling way to put the CEO and other top program folks in front of the donorbase to re-affirm mission.

Friday: Fundraising Vital Signs – Response UpdateThe Agitator has now completed two cycles of our Fundraising Vital Signs surveys, in which we ask readers of The Agitator to share their prognostications regarding the fundraising outlook for the balance of 2008. Both Vital Signs Surveys and Key findings are a must read.

Your Weekend Bonus: Seldom have I seen as much discussion in our trade than is now taking place around the potential effects of the global recession on fundraising. Over the past several weeks I’ve recommended several pieces for your weekend review.This weekend’s ‘must read’ entry is the work of Tony Elischer of THINK Consulting Solutions in the U.K. Bottom line according to Tony, “Most of all we will need to change our behaviours and those of our organizations to stand the best chance of surviving and perhaps even thriving during this recession.”You can download Tony’s thought piece titled “Recession: Watching is Not an Option” by clicking here.

In addition to advice along the lines as that offered by others Tony makes a couple of points worth additional note:

• Recessions educate donors to act differently. Expect donors to be more demanding of the service their chosen charities give them. More donors will shop around before choosing non-profits “meeting my life choices/values.”

• Corporate fundraising is possibly the first are to decline. Obviously the impact of less consumer spending will have companies mainly focusing on the bottom line and survival. HOWEVER…some companies may find your brand helpful in meeting their corporate objectives in these troubled times.

• Foundation giving is likely to be little affected in the near-term. Foundations will focus on delivering on their current commitments and so little immediate effect. However, according to Tony, they’ll become more ‘hardened’ towards new approaches.• Individual giving will go through a ‘slow burn’ as the impact of the recession hits different aspects of people’s lives. Tony notes that each year has been getting more and more difficult over the last 3 years and the recession will accelerate fundraising difficulties. Of course charities can’t give up on either fundraising or recruitment but are going to have to work harder and smarter. Tony would spend his money in figuring out the “next significant surge in digital recruitment”.

• Events in hardest hit markets are already feeling the impact. Wealthy folks will not be willing to pay premium prices required for high-end events. Not only because of a squeeze on resources, but they won’t want to be seen ‘showing off’ when others are struggling.Tony’s favorite (favourite, sorry) mantra in these times: “Focus on donor share, not market share.”

Have a good weekend,Roger

P.S. In case it’s cold and rainy and you really want to be a star, look through your bookshelf and take out (or go online and order) Ken Burnett’s “Relationship Fundraising: A Donor-Based Approach to the Business of Raising Money, 2nd Edition and an E-Book.Given what we’re all up against, this book, filled with great case histories and more than 200 action points, should be in your quiver.

This article was posted in: Communications, Demographics, Donor retention / loyalty / commitment, DonorTrends / DonorVoice, Online fundraising and marketing.
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