For many nonprofits, the typical year-end fundraising sprint has gotten tremendously more difficult.
The pandemic, the economy, the election, and the ongoing work for social justice have made the Giving Tuesday (or #GivingTuesday, if you prefer) and year-end fundraising picture murkier than ever. It’s a hard time to ask for money — at precisely the time that the need is greatest.
At the same time, according to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, giving in the first half of 2020 from certain segments was actually up as compared to 2019 — so there’s opportunity out there, if you can figure out how to find it. At the same time, Bloomberg reported in early October that the pandemic served to significantly increase the wealth gap — while billionaires are doing far better, most people are doing worse.
In other words, what worked last year isn’t going to work anymore.
Several years ago we launched a team-based coaching service, Polaris, that we use to help teams think through how to implement, launch, and manage their Giving Tuesday and year-end campaigns. Over the next few days, we will outline six of the challenges we’ve encountered this year in our Polaris engagements, as well as our recommendations on how to overcome them.
Today we'll start with the question we get the most.
Times are so difficult for many of our donors — and their minds are on other issues. What kind of asks are going to be effective?
Start With What Matters
In tough times, the worst thing you can do is to pretend to be something you’re not. The best thing you can do is be authentic. If your cause doesn’t have a natural bridge to the pandemic or social injustice, avoid awkward attempts to create them. Instead, speak from the heart about your impact and why it still matters.
- Revisit your core positioning – what do you do better than any other organization?
- Compile your impact list. Think first in terms of what you have accomplished. What has your organization been able to do in the past year?
- Now, craft a vision. With more support, what will you accomplish next year? What is the highest possibility of your efforts? And, why does it matter?
Long story short, don't pretend to be something you're not. Start by articulating who you are, and why it matters.
Over the next week, we'll explore other challenges and recommendations in more detail — but if you want to read ahead, we invite you to download our free guide to Giving Tuesday and year-end fundraising. Times are tough, but fundraising doesn't have to be!
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