Friday, October 17, 2008

Becoming One of the Chosen Few

How do you raise money when the stock market is tanking? That’s a big question for anyone who relies on funding from other places. Donors are going to cut back – the question is where. Even if the market recovers in the next year, the sting of today’s losses won’t disappear.

So we’re starting a series of articles on how to message and market in tough economic times. What worked a year ago won’t work now.

The Stern Communications network has several members who specialize in working with non-profits. Here are the changes they’re seeing in corporate giving and some advice for keeping funders engaged and happy. Corporations are. . .

Examining their donation pools. Funders are looking at the mix of charities they support and trying to fine tune it to a few that offer them the most value. They are examining portfolios and evaluating return on investment (ROI) for everything they spend. They will cut back – it’s a question of whether or not you are the one cut.

Asking for quantifiable measures of value. If you expect to get donations now build in a way to measure results of funding. Be prepared not just to explain your value – quantify it. Measure at the start of your program, and at key benchmarks along the way. And report to donors as you achieve them.

Direct connection between businesses and charities they support. As funders start cutting back – the small donations, the ancillary budgets, are going to disappear. Those they fund must have a direct, connection to their businesses – so they can make a case for supporting their industries. So if you’re distributing food to the poor, go to a food company, preferably a local one. If you are helping female cancer survivors go to the medical service providers. In pure marketing terms – answer the question what’s in it for them?

Staying close to home. In tough times, companies spend more in their communities. They stay close to home to build good will. Supporting a local charity, getting employees involved, helping in schools, mentoring and training – all are options companies will be looking for. Offer ways they can help here – even if the investment is people rather than funds.

Finally, help your funders get media attention for their contributions. Publicize their donations as widely as you can. Tell everyone you know. Thank them in a public way.

1 comment:

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