Wednesday, July 2

Do you wanna know where I've been?

In addition to the thousands of people who visit this website every month or read my stories via RSS, more than 700 people are signed up to receive Don't Tell the Donor by email. In the two weeks since I last posted to this blog, many of you have emailed to ask where I've been or why I stopped writing. So... I'm going to tell you:

I bought a time machine.

That's right, a small metal chair rigged to flux capacitor which only requires 1.21 gigawatts of electrical power to send me flying forward or backward in time. Despite my lifelong promise to myself that if I should go back in time and steal someone else's invention or stop myself from making all those mistakes I made in high school... alas... I decided to use the time machine to travel into the future to share with you what fundraising will look like next year at this time.

It's worse than just not good... it's downright scary.

The housing market isn't going to get better. As a result, I guess it was inevitable that banks like Wachovia, Washington Mutual, PNC Bank, and Fifth Third were going to go belly-up... but, even I was surprised to see General Motors and American Airlines file for bankruptcy.

Unemployment soars above 6% and many of you lose your jobs as smaller nonprofits begin to disintegrate in larger numbers. I hate to say I warned you this was going to happen... but I even ran around with my hair on fire trying to get your attention.

This isn't a normal recession. Unfortunately, this is an unraveling of a massive credit bubble... and it will not end through the normal cyclical economic patterns.

The truth of the matter is that you don't need a time machine. The writing is already on the wall. Target Analytics reported yesterday that revenue declined in the 1st quarter of 2008 for 60% of the 72 large organizations in their benchmarking study. Giving USA Foundation and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University reported individual and corporate giving actually declined in 2007 when adjusted for inflation.

So... go back to living in denial if you want to... or you can adjust yourself and your fundraising programs for the new economy... either way, it's not going to get better for at least another year.

8 comments:

Mike H. said...

welcome back fundraiser!!

but you need to tell us... who wins the Presidential election??

Randal Mason said...

How very H. G. Wells of you!

Tamara said...

Are you trying to depress us? We all know the economy is not thriving, and this is terribly troubling. However, we can not drag ourselves down by this, nor can we give up what we so passionately work toward. We just need to be smart. So, not dragging us down!

Anonymous said...

Downer much? That's a depressing outlook.

Terri said...

It's important to face this pretty indisputable assessment of the fundraising landscape so you can plan effectively for the future.

Where are your major donors concentrated? How are you drawing new supporters to your org? What will happen to your support if different corporate spheres continue to suffer? All questions that we should be looking to address.

Anonymous said...

Your comments based on your assessment of the numerous articles on the doom and gloom of fundraising in the current economy may be correct at this time but it pays to be positive. Your negative vibe is so not needed at this time, there are positive sides to every story. What about the non profits that are doing well during this time such as local museums, zoos, etc. For example, the Bronx Zoo has been packed with visitors every weekend since the beginning of summer because less people are traveling. My two cents...

terri said...

It pays to be positive? Seriously?

That's nice, but it would be piss-poor management strategy to just hope for the best. Good managers hope for the best, and keep morale up at their organizations by trying to put a positive spin on things, but they also plan for the worst.

You can't do that if you just close your eyes and wish for things to get better. You have to have a worst-case assessment and plan as well.

Anonymous said...

I know this response is not timely however, I just wanted to put everything into prospective. When I initally read this blog, I thought wow, I do need to change my fundraising strategies and I even read the article to my Executive Director. Ten days later, to my suprise and despair, I received my walking papers. I didn't see it coming at all and now I am stuck trying to compete for a job in a market that is failing. I've submitted resumes, went on interviews and recieved regret letters. It seems that to save money, nonprofits are hiring less experience fundraisers to do the work to save money, but where does that leave us seasoned fundraisers? Unemployed.