Will Your Charity Make “The Surge” in Fundraising

I gave a presentation on May 13, 2020 to Charities Institute Ireland’s Major Gifts and Legacy forum. 25+ charities participated. We had a Q&A afterwards and I asked the question had charities received significant gifts – solicited or unsolicited in recent days / weeks. What struck me, and indeed others, was that, even though charities are struggling, some had great examples of acts of charity from some of their donors. It’s important we tell these stories – that other donors hear of successes, that a charity’s senior management team and board are made aware too. Things will get better.

Good fundraisers are also picking up the phone and talking to their donors – and finding it easier to get through in many cases. Your charity may or may not have a remit re Covid, but it is probably still being impacted. Let your donors know what is happening – good and bad.

I made the point also that there is still significant wealth in Ireland. Indeed, some sectors are booming because of Covid. Many people also still on full pay (lucky them) but aren’t spending / can’t spend. They can either save, splurge later, do nothing, or give some (perhaps more than normal) away to charities. People are also making wills in greater numbers and charities are still being included as indicated from recent research by Irish charity consortium MyLegacy.

An excellent toolbook for now was also mentioned – “Fundraising in a Pandemic and Economic Downturn: What Will Happen, How You Can Succeed?” by Jeff Brooks / Better Fundraising Company. They have looked back at what happened post 2008 and after Hurricane Katrina. I would liken the scenario somewhat to the time after the Tsunami in 2004 also. They identify four phases:

  1. The Bump – Surge in emergency giving, then rapid drop.
  2. “The Slump” – Medium length period of lower- than-normal giving.  
  3. “The Surge” – Recovery of giving and erasing of shortfall, usually led by Major Donors.             
  4. New Normal – Higher than the old normal in 2021 – IF the organisation is effective at Phases 1-3.       

What happens if your charity has no major gifts background? What if it is paralysed by fear of asking as it doesn’t know anything about its donors beyond a name, address and giving history? As another consultant said in a different forum, now is the time for research. Indeed “Research, Research, Research!” were his exact words…

So, now is the time to look more closely at your donor database to see who are those wonderful donors who might take you out of the Phase 2 slump AND make a real difference to your organisation and cause at this crucial time. Campaign Solutions is the leading prospect research fundraising firm in Ireland. Campaign Solutions has recently completed pro-bono work for four charities – two in the arts and two in the health sectors. None has a tradition of major giving, but are planning to do so. They now have a greater capacity to move confidently into that space. It was instructive to discuss with the charities the many ways the research could help and how it will help in the development of potentially very strong relationships in the future.

Note: the theme of the presentation was ensuring a charity has strong data privacy policies in place to better enable prospect research or wealth-screening and major gift fundraising.

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