As a fundraising and strategic consultant for not-for-profit organizations, I am repeatedly asked the same questions from people wherever I go… How are nonprofits doing these days? Are donations down? Perhaps it’s a sign of the times that these inquires are top of mind when it comes to considering the well-being of many of our essential healthcare, social services, arts, cultural, and educational institutions. The economy remains a challenging uncertainty, and from a personal as well as professional perspective, I’m glad people are concerned with the plight of philanthropically dependant organizations in this time of tight budgets.
Economic downturns are not a new phenomenon. Nonprofits are facing analogous financial challenges as they did in the last recession of 2001, as well as those in the early 1990’s and 1980’s. However, the answers to the two questions – How are nonprofits doing these days? Are donations down? – have not changed over time. Today – as well as during past economic downturns – for the most part, NPOs that have an established advancement enterprise are weathering the storm and are holding their own. Some, in fact, are even showing year over year gains. Well planned and executed strategies, designed for short, medium, and long range realities, have allowed them to thrive, many close to pre-recession levels. Additionally, mature shops are making adjustments and planning for the slow economic turn-around that seems afoot.
On the other side of the coin, NPOs that have not built up a strong base of donors and loyal contributors, or have not had strong, mission focused leadership who understand that fundraising is a 365 day a year priority, are finding they do not have the moorings to adequately weather this storm.
For NPOs of all sizes and missions, the time is now for preserving donors, strengthening relationships, and planning for the reemergence of the “new normal”. All is not lost for less sophisticated or smaller advancement shops. Take stock in your organization’s value to its constituents; human capital in staff, volunteers and donors; and vision for the future. Then craft a strategy that will support investing in your advancement enterprise for today, tomorrow, and the next decade. You want to be ready for the emerging “normal” and for the next inevitable challenging cycle.
1. Solid advancement enterprises are better able to weather significant economic downturns; it is never too late to make strategic adjustments that strengthen your team, outreach efforts, and development bandwidth.
2. A new “normal” is emerging and responding correctly to this environment will be essential in order to align your organization with new funding realities and opportunities.
3. Take stock in your organization’s value proposition and assets and make them central to your planning.
For more information about Copley Raff and its spectrum of not for profit consulting services, please see www.copleyraff.com.
Have a development, executive recruitment, or campaign strategy or management challenge? Let’s talk! Click here to connect with Rebekah Kaufman, Director of Consulting Services at CRI.