Is Your Fundraising Program a Trend Buster?

20 06 2011

The former U.S. Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill coined the phrase “All politics is local”, well perhaps one can say that “All philanthropy is local”! The GivingUSA Report serves as a valuable benchmark for everyone working in the philanthropic sector of the economy.  The impact of philanthropy will be profound over the next few years with flat or declining federal budgets.  Giving USA had several important statistics that should make you look at your own program and create a benchmark for yourself.

The rise in giving was projected at 2% when adjusted for inflation.  However, I know many non-profits whose fundraising rose by significantly more.  So why did theirs rise more than the average?  Well, lots of unique situations…..but you should be exploring what it will take for you to beat the trends.

Step 1) Review Programs.  Are we getting the most out of our programs?  Examine your major and planned gifts, annual giving, corporate and foundation programs.  Are there things that can increase the projected results?

GivingUSA also predicts tough years ahead for the fundraising environment.  Which in fairness, is based on a model utilizing the economy and philanthropic trends associated with the economy and therefore not based on IRS data.  In Malcolm Gladwell’s “What the Dog Saw”, there is a great discussion about how the stock market is difficult to predict.  Know why?  It is driven by emotion, whether its 9/11 or political scandal.  The markets react illogically.  What does this mean for philanthropy?

Step 2) Appeal to Emotion. Can we engage our donors in a way that helps them suspend their natural cautions? Are we inspiring them to act?  We get so caught up in the business of our organizations we need to stay focused on the passion!

Source: Giving USA 2011

So, take stock in how your sector did in 2010. The Chronicle of Philanthropy highlights the different sectors.  Decide what you did or did not do to help you break the trend. Programs that are constantly reviewing themselves are best positioned for success. So make your Philanthropy Local and beat the trends – I bet you can outperform the forecast and industry with focused efforts.

Good luck!

– Mark Marshall

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