charity public relations

Are you prepared for the donation drop? 

In any recession, most charities experience a drop-off in donations. Doesn’t matter what segment you’re in, you will likely see less in your coffers when people believe the economy is in the toilet.

Well, we’ve come out of the Great Recession and, for a while, giving has been on a steady incline. Market prognosticators are saying that’s about to end. According to the Atlas of Giving report, donations in the U.S. are going to drop about two percent this year … and that may just be the beginning.

Now, this is not about some Chicken Little fear mongering. This isn’t even a wake-up call or a warning. This is a question – if they’re right, are you ready? Because you can be.

Time and again, polls and reality have proven that committed donors will continue to give even if they’re struggling. So, your job – your primary job – is to develop and strengthen your relationship with your donors. So, what are you doing about that?

The program is more about mindset than it is about function. Charities that suffer the most when things go bad in the economy are those who view donors as a source rather than partners worthy of respect. Yes, you are doing “good work”, but they are funding that work. You can’t exist without them, so act like it. Build relationship, and then nurture that relationship.

Connecting once at some fundraiser isn’t enough. Neither is bombarding them with emails and direct mail request cards. Donors want to know they are making a difference. They want to believe it, not just hope that maybe something they did worked. And they want to enjoy the experience.

Do you know what motivates your most likely donors? Do they want fun community or physical challenges? A mix of both? Do they enjoy parties and galas or golf outings? What brings them the most connectivity and value?

Value. Have you ever thought about it in those terms? Yes, they want to do right by your cause, but they want it to be their cause too. Plus, they have limited time – and they realize it – so they are set on “no” before you even ask. So, you need to find a way to connect with them. And that requires knowing your audience. Learning about them as people, not just wallets you get to reach into from time to time.

The bottom line in all of this? When it comes to charity PR, the question should not be, “How can we get them to give?” It needs to be, “Who are these people, and how can we connect them with this cause in a way that keeps them coming back?” This is a much deeper, more nuanced question, and the answer will deliver much better results for you.