Be flexible to survive downturn, major donor fundraisers are told

Charities should slash their targets for fundraising from corporates as they plan for the economic downturn, delegates at the Institute of Fundraising Scotland conference were told last week

IoF Scotland conference: delegates told to be realistic
IoF Scotland conference: delegates told to be realistic

Martin Kaufman, senior associate at fundraising consultancy Brakely UK and head of development at the Museum of London, gave the advice in a speech on major donor fundraising, during which he reflected on surviving what he described as three economic crises over two decades.

Kaufman said the sector was far stronger than it had been in previous downturns but advised delegates to be flexible: "Be prepared to cut corporate budgets, be realistic in your forecasting and revise down your targets."

He also warned fundraisers not to be impulsive. "It's too soon to make any cataclysmic statements in front of senior management," he said. "You can frighten yourself out of fundraising."

Fundraisers must recognise that rich people will also suffer and should offer them the option of splitting donations into instalments, Kaufman said. Targets should be reassessed and the downturn should be used as an opportunity to research new prospects, he added: "Think about who may have made money in the crisis."

He also said it would be a "strategic mistake" to cut back events, but that some organisations should consider decreasing PR activity.

Donor care should be maintained, he said: "Now is not the time to abandon your stewarding."


Be cautious when setting financial targets and forecasts, and consider revising down

Don't make rash decisions; watch what happens over the next few months

Be flexible with payments

Keep up your stewardship: thank people and make them feel appreciated

Develop new mid-level donors.


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