By David Condon, CEO – Diversified Nonprofit Services
Do you stay a spectator or do you become a player?
With all of the trials and tribulations that come with trying to stay viable in the present down economy many times the one area that is put on the back burner is resource development. Organizations, assuming no one will support them by making a contribution, create their own self-fulfilling prophecy of failure by not staying focused on cultivating, soliciting, and acknowledging their current donors and future prospects. This is both dangerous and fool hardy as other organizations in your community may not be taking the same cavalier approach and are out working trying to cultivate and close your donors.
The simple fact of the matter is that in a down economy people still tend to contribute to their favorite charities, perhaps not as much as in the past, but they still contribute. Philanthropists understand the increased needs of nonprofits in this type of economy and in many cases focus their giving more closely but nonetheless support them at significant level. The Center for Wealth and Philanthropy reported the amount of charitable giving in the US in 2007 was $229 billion. One study conducted by Schervish and Havens predicted that by the end of 2009, charitable giving will be down to approximately $208 billion. While this is a predicted 10% drop in philanthropic giving over a two year period, take a moment to look beyond the numbers.
The numbers referenced in the previous paragraph are for the broad spectrum of charities. One thing that we do know is that, when difficult times come, the reduction in philanthropy is not shared across the board. Nonprofit organizations focusing on the arts, music, and culture absorb an inordinately high percentage of the drop in philanthropic giving while organizations focusing on the needy, homeless, disadvantaged youth, and social services may actually see increases in a down economy. There is little doubt that a change in the overall human condition spurs people to not only give their money but also their time.
As a former psychologist I have learned that perception can play a key role in whether you mobilize your organization to action or you wallow in your own self pity while feeling sorry for yourself. Yes there is a prediction that there will be a drop of 10% of the $229 million raised in 2007 but it still leaves $208 billion that will be given to those who want it most and who position themselves for success. The only nonprofits who will fail to survive this downturn are those that quit on themselves. Those nonprofit organizations that position themselves now to take advantage of the upturn in the economy, when it comes, will be ready to surge forward. Those organizations that play the waiting game will be left waiting at the gate as the economy shifts.
The questions your organization must ask itself are:
- Do you sit on the sidelines until someone invites you into the game or do you take a proactive stance and put yourself in the game now?
- Do you stay a spectator or do you become a player?
- Do you position yourself for success or do you let others position you for failure?
The decision is yours.