Wednesday, November 12, 2008

CEO Breakfast: "Good fundraisers raise more money in a recession. Bad fundraisers use it as an excuse."

We met with a bunch of CEO's and Finance Director's over eggs and coffee here in Sydney this morning with some fundraisers there, too. We talked about fundraising in a recession and the measures that they and their boards are currently taking with regard to the recession. There were about two dozen of us including people from big charities, small charities, international and local.

It was an interesting session and some good positive feedback came out of it. It looks as though from the charities that attended most are looking at ways to diversify their fundraising portfolios and will be investing in fundraising activities.

Great to hear and regardless of a recession it's these charities that will come out the other side with more money and be able to create bigger impact.

At the end of the presentation we threw it out to the floor and asked 'How will you respond'

Some of the bullet points from the group:

- Breeding Major Donors - ask major donors who are in a holding pattern because they can't afford to donate, to fundraise from friends

- Board strategy session – to map out what the strategy will be

- Spend more money on marketing going forward

- One charity reported acquisition average donation like for like on last year was down $10 (20%) but response the same

- Improve monitoring systems. Make sure information comes through on a monthly/quarterly basis. Greenpeace are generating weekly reports on some metrics.

- Increase expenditure in fundraising to keep the same net

- Need to do similar things (as what they currently do now) but get smarter in terms of data analysis

- Concentrating on the segments that give the most return

- Framing a case for support – people need our help more than ever

We also discussed as to whether for some charities a recession is an opportunity to clear out dead wood. Re-evaluate those marginal campaigns, even marginal services, under-performing staff can be moved on (ouch).

Two other fantastic things that came out of the breakfast and networking with peers, is that;

  1. Dave (from Amnesty International) thought he may be able to share with the group the recession relevant headline results of the intra-benchmarking (comparing results from different countries) that Amnesty International are doing with Pareto Fundraising

  2. Corporates are pulling advertising at the moment so for those organisations out there with adverts ready to go there is possibly more media opportunities than before - things could be cheaper!

But my favourite comment was from Claire Mallinson of Amnesty International (for those who know her yes, that is correct - no typo, she left Greenpeace a couple of months ago).

"Good fundraisers raise more money in a recession. Bad fundraisers use it as an excuse."

Thank you to those that attended and spoke so candidly about their experiences so far.

Sean Triner

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