This week several clients have asked me if they should stop raising funds for their non-profit organizations given the present situation. Tens of foundations and philanthropists whose funds have just disappeared wonder if is this an opportune time to ask people to contribute funds even for health, education and social welfare programs? Or is this the time to engage these people in understanding how donations can be responsibly employed, and how the organization can be accountable for its use of these valued funds?
It is true, philanthropists who were victims of the largest financial scam in history may be “gun shy” and concerned with their ability to continue making contributions. However, true philanthropists will want to keep working to make the world a better place to live.
The challenge is now in the hands of non-profit organizations, their professional staff members, and their lay leaders and donors, to demonstrate they are using the funds correctly, prudently and are completely transparent. The focus must now shift to engaging people who care about the purposes and goals of the non-profit organizations. It is all about relationship.
Those involved in resource development have to maintain contacts with their supporters and communicate with them on a regular basis. Keep the lines open and the dialogue going. It is also time to begin to reach out to new people and who care about what your organization does and how it helps people. The amounts of money raised at the present time may not be the same as it would have been several years ago. However, if you do not continue working in a strategic way then when times are better you will not have cultivated supporters who will be willing, and even enthusiastic about supporting your organization.
Thus, whether we are in “good times” or “bad times” you always maintain contact with supporters, donors, funders and foundations. You need to make sure they know you are thinking about them and ready to respond to their interests whether or not they can provide you with the funding you need right now. So the bottom line is, yes this is the time to continue fundraising and “friendraising”.
Stephen G. Donshik, D.S.W. is a lecturer at Hebrew University’s International Leadership and Philanthropy Program and has a private consulting firm focused on strengthening non-profit organizations and their leadership for tomorrow. Stephen is a regular contributor to eJewish Philanthropy.