Monday, October 20, 2008

Ken Burnett has this to say...

Ken wrote a book, Relationship Fundraising, many years ago. If you have implemented many of the ideas in the book, you are probably not worried at all about a recession. It is packed full of brilliant advice(except for the bit about asking donors how many communications they want).

Advice that would make sure yours is the last charity that donors leave.

Below is what he reckons...


... I feel most past financial downturns have not proved to be negative for fundraisers in Europe, in fact often they’ve been relatively positive.

Some areas though – major donors and corporate donors for example, will usually be hit. But individual giving has mainly stood up well – except for those organisations who cut back activity.

They fail. This crisis though is of a different order of magnitude. It hasn’t hit most organisations yet. But it will, soon.

The lessons learned from past crises are that it is time to be bold and to reaffirm the fundamentals. But this is a new situation now. Here’s what I would recommend.

  1. Do not cut back investment in fundraising. This would be very foolish.
  2. Focus on presenting your cause positively and optimistically.
  3. There’s safety in focusing on individual giving. Concentrate on ‘the big three’ - regular donors, legacies and major donors. Cut all unprofitable/low return activities.
  4. Define your products very well. Make sure your donors see your cause as the last thing they will cut.
  5. Get to be very good at communication – particularly low-cost, electronic media.
  6. Now is the time that your efficient friendly donor service will pay off. You’ll be glad that some years back you invested in donor care/relationship building.
  7. Demonstrate value for money for your donors at every opportunity.
  8. Be genuinely transparent, open and accountable.
  9. Share your problems with donors. Ask them to stand by your cause through this crisis. (Don’t be negative).
  10. Show and demonstrate your dedication and commitment to your cause. Don’t be afraid to ask your donors to be similarly committed.

Now is the time to get back to basics.

Ken Burnett

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