Giving – it’s all the rage
Over a single weekend in January 2017, the ACLU received $24 million online. Their typical annual online donations total $4 million. How?
2017 is a year with a lot of…huge changes coming at us fast. Amid fears of government spending cuts and radical policy shifts, we’re seeing the rise of a phenomenon dubbed “rage giving”. Donors are flooding organizations with totally unsolicited gifts in response to news reports that either anger or upset them.
The astounding statistic from the ACLU in January hits home that for donors, charitable giving is an action. People give to a cause because they want to believe it will change things in the real world.
The development dilemma
We’re seeing successful fundraising campaigns that frame philanthropy as purposeful activism to change the way things are, or to chart a new path to the way things should be. Yet, not all of us are the ACLU.
That leaves us with a quandary: are we using the momentum of public interest to reinforce the important role a cause plays in shaping policy? Or are we taking inappropriate advantage of an emotionally-charged moment to fundraise for a cause that only has a peripheral role in current policy debate?
Finding the right balance
Whatever your service sector, and at whichever level of influence you are, now is the time to ask the following:
- Does your organization/cause stand to lose funds due to specific policy changes?
- Is it appropriate for you to solicit donors more frequently/aggressively with reference to policy changes? Or is that actually unwarranted capitalizing on the news?
- Is there more your donors can do besides donate? Are there volunteer or activism opportunities you should encourage them to pursue?
- Are your communications/social media channels ready to distribute information that recruits new interest in the wake of growing attention to your cause or service sector?
- What are topics that you should be sensitive in discussing? What are topics that you should not shy away from this year?
- How can you measure the impact of this year’s events on your sector? Can the findings you record in 2017 put you on a path to being more recognized thought-leaders in the policies to come?
It’ll take more than acknowledgment
Changes and gifts are coming at us real fast – you’ll need to act quickly to ensure you’re on top of the income and the outcomes.
This intensity and ferocity of charitable giving is usually only seen in the wake of natural disasters or war. When we receive “rage giving” gifts, we’re not just getting a donation – we’re getting a mandate to really make changes in our world. It may be important for you to update your acknowledgment letters to thank people for more than their gift, but their belief in you to make those changes happen.
Cement your organization as a real changemaker by getting some quick reporting infrastructure in place. Send out more frequent updates about what your recent funds have done or will do. Set up specific campaigns/appeals that pledge specific funds to front-line programs.
Online giving, and especially on mobile phones, is key. When your donors are reading the news and getting worked up, make sure that it’s easy for them to donate immediately. Otherwise, you’re doing your donors and your organization a disservice.
Make sure your organization has a clear strategy for 2017 that accounts for leadership changes, sudden growth of cause awareness, or social tensions in your region. If you’re unsure about how to approach this next year, or if you want to talk through your strategy, Perry Davis Associates are here to help.
Be prepared, be accountable, and be the change you want to see in the world.
Tips: When changes are afoot, how do you steady your course?
Keep Calm and Carry On… This year has gotten off to a very different start – even we have needed to take some time to digest all the changes and implications.
Unsure of how your funding relates to world events? Want to raise funds for outcomes that haven’t been measured yet? Fund the research – ask for grants and gifts to do the impact assessments in 2017. Take the lead and see what your work and research can do to impact programs and services in the years after the dust settles. Your cause does not end after this year.
Has your mission taken on new significance in the face of global and local changes? Your donors and supporters need to hear directly from you that you mean to carry on. Now is the time to re-state your mission, and re-commit to your goals.
Take the time to collect your thoughts as a team – how do you feel about the changes in the world? How are you coping as people? Use those sentiments to make a statement to set the tone for the year. Open channels with your donors/supporters to let them know if and how the shifts of 2017 are going to affect your programs or services. Reassure your base that your mission continues even if times seem uncertain.
Your board should be the first group to be jolted by the energy of this moment. Take the time to reactivate the less-engaged board members. Get your great board members out of the conference room and into meetings with prospective donors. Everyone on your board should be all fired up and ready to spread the word about your mission.