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Fundraising through Disasters

Personally, I’ve fielded any number of phone calls over the past month or so asking a simple, direct question: What am I supposed to do when my donors tell me they’re shifting their focus from traditional giving in order to give to some form of disaster relief?

As a fundraising pro, disasters probably aren’t in your arsenal of specialties to raise money for.

For your donors, your cause may be taking a backseat because of a perceived “lesser priority” than whatever disaster rules the day.

To put it plainly, donors do shift their giving to organizations with more immediate needs. Knowing how to keep donors engaged, while not seeming to be insensitive to the situation is a problem that must be faced.

Your challenge is to emphasize the importance of keeping up with efforts to support your organization’s ongoing needs.

So what do you do? Stop fundraising for a period of time or fundraise more carefully? Those seem to be your two choices. Temporarily delaying your fundraising efforts may be the right thing to do and is a common response, even a logical one.

However, if you choose this path, I want to urge you not to think that you should stop communicating with your various constituents.

In other words, don’t stop talking to your donors. Your mission is still in need of philanthropic support.

A couple of ideas:

  • Concentrate major gift calls on expressing gratitude. Say thank you. You never know when one of your donors(or prospects, for that matter) have been directly or indirectly affected by events in Houston or Puerto Rico.

  • Concentrate on still making the ask when and where it seems appropriate to do so. Remember to be sensitive to what your donors are telling you.

In taking these approaches, you may just help to bring out the best in your donors.

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