What about campaigns in times like these?
Many organizations and congregations were planning to launch a campaign, just launched one, or will need to launch one soon to erase the operational debt that is now being incurred. What do we do?
It may surprise you, but economic conditions have never been the critical factor in whether a campaign is successful or not. Philanthropy has been a very stable sector of the economy. From 1980 to 2007 there were five official recessions and philanthropy had year over year gains in each of those years. According to NP Trust, total dollars given has increased every year since 2008. While the total number of people making contributions is fewer, those who are contributing are giving even more generously.
Americans give in both good times and bad – and they give to worthy causes.
By not launching an already-planned campaign, you end up limiting your mission and impact. Having said that, I would not recommend launching a campaign while a disaster is ongoing, as in the current Covid-19 crisis. Compare this with the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, which took place on a single day. While impacts of that event were lasting, many non-profit organizations were able to mobilize into recovery strategies fairly quickly.
Jerald Panas addressed the topic of raising money during difficult times in 2008 with the recession that gripped the country at that time. Panas found some advantages to raising money in difficult financial times, including the following:
- You will plan and prepare more carefully. There will be riveting attention to detail.
- You will settle only for first-choice leaders. And you are more likely to enlist the best because competition for their time will be less encumbered.
- Your leaders will take their campaign responsibilities more seriously. They will understand the need for longer and more careful preparation. And they will appreciate your higher standards of selection and performance.
- There will be fewer competing campaigns to interfere with your prospective givers.
- The fact you are raising funds in tough times and in the face of challenging economic conditions underlines the importance of your cause. And the urgency.
Panas also makes the point that even if you will raise a bit less in a campaign after an economic downturn, wouldn’t you rather raise 85% of your original goal than raise nothing? If I had plans to raise $100,000 before Covid-19, but I can now raise $85,000, I would still want that $85,000 to move the mission forward.
By no means am I suggesting you create a campaign to launch when we have moved into recovery from this disaster. However, if you had already planned a campaign, or will need a campaign to recover from lost revenue during this pandemic, start planning now and recruiting your best leadership.
To read Panas’ complete article that is cited here, you can find it at https://bloomerang.co/blog/raising-funds-in-tough-times