Updated: Oct 6, 2022
Your nonprofit organization is struggling with revenue and asking for money in an increasingly challenging economy is difficult. Well, you're not alone!
Nonprofit organizations are in a unique position. Just as we come out of the pandemic, when many nonprofits were forced to operate at lower levels because of shut downs, we get sideswiped by the highest inflation rate in 40 years. Additionally, the majority of Americans are fearing a recession is lurking around the corner.
Nonprofits rely on fundraising dollars to operate, and we all know it's harder to raise money when Americans are uncertain about their economic future. But, you can’t just give up raising money!
More than ever, you need a recession proof plan. Most organizations have plans, but it's time to revamp your plan so that it addresses the needs of your organization during this particularly difficult time in America. Nonprofits are dealing with the same challenges as a for-profit business and in some ways, even working families. Not enough revenue to deal with higher expenses, and a labor shortage on top of it all. However, many nonprofit organizations are filling an increased need for individuals and communities during this post-Covid era so that makes the fundraising case an easier sell.
Let me give you 3 quick starter steps to get you going:
Develop a new message and plan. This plan should clearly state the need, how the need improves the community/state/nation/world, and point out how your plan addresses the challenge of fundraising during this difficult time in America. One idea is to encourage a recurring donation program. As NonProfitPro points out, "in a down economy, recurring gifts may be the best way for donors to continue their support as they can afford smaller gifts." Most importantly, the very best way to make your organization recession proof is with a major gifts program. NDI explains it well in this article. If you don't have one, start developing it now!
Communicate the message and plan. Part of your plan will ultimately include the different channels you will use to communicate your need. Identifying new champions to help communicate the plan will be important. You will want to repeat the message and need over and over again to your donors and prospective donors. The message should stay the same but you certainly will want different messengers, story tellers and strategies on how to communicate the need. Positive and inspirational narratives work well. And don't be afraid to communicate a negative message detailing what happens if you don't reach your goal.
Ask, and ask, and ask again. As the old saying goes, people don't give if they aren't asked. Many nonprofits are fearful of asking for money too much, however, most rarely ever come close to asking too much. In fact, unless your community says you are asking too much, you probably are not asking too much. As stated in point 2, your plan will likely include different channels making the ask such as email, text, social media and in person or over the phone. Always remember, the worst result is that someone says "no". However, "no" is not the end of the journey! Virtuous has a great piece on fundraising strategies after getting a "no".
I cannot stress enough the need to change up your fundraising plan to meet the challenge of our times. Anxiety has filled our lives for so many different reasons. But don't let that get in your way of fundraising. If you make a compelling case illustrating how your nonprofit is changing the world, then people will take notice, appreciate the ask and many will say yes! But you need that plan and you need to be prepared. Get to work before a recession hits hard!