in Tough Economic Times

Ann Fitzgerald President AC Fitzgerald author

Ann C. Fitzgerald, President

The topic on the mind of every fundraiser is: How will the current economic slowdown impact charitable contributions?

Giving USA offers two important statistics based on historical data:

  • In the last 40 years, the average rate of change in giving during a recession was a decrease of 1 percent.
  • In the four worst recession years (1970, 1974, 1982 and 2001), total giving fell an average of 2.7 percent.

These may not seem like very large percentages. However, these downturns affect nonprofits differently. Some nonprofits will manage well, some will struggle, and some will close down.

So how do nonprofits best survive these tough economic times?

  • Plan the work and work the plan. Review and update your fundraising strategic plan for the next three years. (If you don’t have a plan, the next edition of Nonprofit Partner will provide some ideas on how to develop one.) Examine and revise your communications and stewardship plans. Nonprofits need to communicate their mission and effectiveness to donors on a regular basis.
  • Take no donor for granted. We all know that it’s much less expensive to keep a donor than to find a new one. So focus on your relationship-building activities such as thanking donors promptly for gifts, calling to reach out, and mailing information of interest to the donor.
  • Don’t use the bad economy as an excuse for ignoring the basics. The fundamental principles of fundraising have not changed. Regardless of the economic situation, we need to steadily build relationships by communicating a persuasive case for support based on our vision and our results-oriented programs.

Ann C. Fitzgerald is Founder and President of AC Fitzgerald, using her decades of experience in fundraising, management, leadership, and sales to help nonprofits build their capacity and achieve success. She is a sought-after speaker, writer, and advisor.

Subscribe to our free ACF Nonprofit Partner blog for insights to help your nonprofit thrive.