My friend Jerry Huntsinger, sometimes called the "dean of fundraising copywriters", in a piece titled "A Contrarian Approach to Coming Out of A Recession" writes that now is the time to move beyond the worry of recession and turn our attention to coming out of it — in a growth mode.


Jerry’s been practicing his craft since 1962 so he’s seen his share of recessions and recoveries. Here’s why he thinks charities that take the contrarian approach are more likely to emerge best from tough times and move into a strong growth phase.


According to Jerry, here are some of the steps they take that vary from conventional organizations:



  • Take aggressive action during the recession. If an organization waits until the recession is declared over, it has missed the cycle of recovery.
  • Don’t cut programs that generate net income.
  • Don’t lose contact with donors. Don’t go silent in the name of cost-savings; just reduce the number of appeals.
  • "Keep mentioning the word ‘recession’ to your donors. As Jerry puts it, ‘they continually need to be aware that you’re facing grave financial shortfalls."
  • Increase the number of contacts/appeals to the most productive segments of your donorbase. It may annoy the board, but the most loyal donors have to take up the slack.
  • Test asking amounts — particularly higher amounts — to the best donors.
  • Increase your "test budget" so you’re poised for success and growth when the economy turns around.
  • "Reduce your staff instead of reducing your mailings."

Perhaps the most daring/interesting of Jerry’s observations: "Launch a brand new program. Hype it strong. Go to your donors and tell them you have to move forward with this program, recession or no recession. This will help energize your donors, and give them more motivation to increase their giving, other than just helping you meet the budget during recession."


You can get the full flavor of Jerry’s insights not only on recession but on a variety of other topics of interest by clicking here.


Jerry, for thinking outside the box as you so often do, you deserve a raise.




P.S. On Friday, December 12th we held the second of a series of telebriefings on the latest DonorTrends/Agitator surveys we are releasing every few weeks. Friday’s session covered "generational giving" — the differences and similarities between older and younger donors.


You can download a free recording of that session by clicking below. Please feel free to share it with colleagues.


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The full survey — complete with findings, tables and recommendations you can act on — is available exclusively to Premium Service subscribers. The next two surveys, to be released in January, deal with "Online Fundraising" and you won’t want to miss those. So, sign-up for the Premium Service today by clicking here.

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