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Fundraising Tip: Donations Down? What Can You Do?

Some fundraising teams are seeing donations drop.

Another meal with a colleague in nonprofit fundraising and another conversation about fundraising being down. In this case it was their year-end campaign, compared to the year prior.

I have seen a lot of these stories on LinkedIn, and in personal correspondences with those who are accountable for fundraising numbers.

It’s not fun to be down in fundraising, especially when you are like most of us in being totally committed and passionate to the cause.

And being a nonprofit fundraising professional.

And aside from the pressures from your ED/CEO, the board, and your inner pressures knowing the mission thrives with your success.

In my years of being in nonprofit fundraising, I have definitely experienced this.

My experience shows me that when I am taking action with my fundraising efforts, any negativity around fundraising being down dissipates.

First on my list is to make sure I am connecting with donors. Whether you have a portfolio of donors or or charged with all donor relationships, start making those connections. I find that calendaring donor calls helps.

Start calling donors and invite them to coffee, lunch, or a site tour.

Starting with what we call “lapsed” donors would be a great place to begin. These are donors who have donated for a couple of years or more but did not donate last year.

While you start making calls, stay in close contact with your program teams so you can bring direct information to donors on what is happening in regard to mission, and the impact of their giving.

Start, or continue, using email to communicate with donors and to ask for donations. Many times i see nonprofit fundraising professionals thinking they are asking too much when in fact they are not asking enough. Keep your donors in the know around successes and challenges.

Keep imposter syndrome at bay. Work with your team, leadership, board members, and others in communications plans that don’t dwell in negativity or blame.

Budget correctly. You may not have control over this. I see a lot of fundraising revenue budgets that are off because they conatin a one-time estate gift or foundation awards are added to a fundraising campaign. This doesn’t necessarily affect fundraising, but it does bring your organization into comparing apples to apples.

Ask for help. Hopefully your CEO or ED is willing to support fundraising efforts. The relationship between the head of fundraising and the leader of the organization is a critical one, and something needs to change if that relationship is not healthy.

I have worked with many nonprofit board of directors and there are always board members who are there to help with fundraising efforts. Accept their help.

Go for a walk. Clear your head. Have lunch with a supportive colleague who knows what you are going through. Then get to your donors.

Take a risk. Be of service. Support your friends and colleagues. Be kind.

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