In the face of economic hardship and a drifting economy, many nonprofits are faced with hits to their budgets from both government cutbacks and a receding tide of private gifts and public donations.

As our government seeks to bail out private enterprise to the tune of trillions, those same bailed out mega-firms are, at the same time, cutting back spending in those areas that affect charities.

The deteriorating market and heightened concern over personal financial stability have caused charitable giving to decrease. According to Indiana University’s Center on Philanthropy, in the second half of 2008, nonprofits have been in the worst fundraising climate for U.S. charities in more than a decade. Gifts of $1 million or more fell by 33% in the second half of 2008 and are expected to continue the downward spiral in 2009.

The not-for-profit sector must begin to rely on its own resources to develop cutback strategies of their own that will help keep them afloat. The Fieldstone Alliance has a history of providing consulting, publishing, training, and research and demonstration projects that help nonprofits, funders, networks, and communities achieve greater impact. This link provides a good foundation for the development of cut-back strategies.

The Direct Marketing Association’s (DMA) NonProfit Federation is also engaged with non profit groups through their annual nonprofit conference in Washington as well as workshops.

At one of the recent conferences, Tom Gaffny, then EVP at Epsilon, led a session titled “‘E’ Is for Engagement: 65 Organizations, A Case Study”

The gist of the session was that Gaffny made online contributions to 145 nonprofit organizations and then tracked their responses. His findings were fascinating, sometimes astounding. For example, 49 of those organizations never even acknowledged the gift!

Gaffny, now Principal of his own firm after 28 years with Epsilon, whittled down the best practices of the best e-efforts for nonprofits into these twelve tips:

Tom can be reached directly at 617-877-3015
  • Be relevant. Be local.
  • Highlight video on your Web site.
  • Engage constituents (quizzes, games, video, etc.).
  • Leverage techniques that work in the mail (matching gifts, headlines, Post-its, etc.).
  • Send information in bite-sized chunks.
  • Work at channel integration.
  • Personalize your organization.
  • Be visual.
  • Say thank you in different ways.
  • Ask “friends” to get the word out.
  • Be timely. Be there.
  • Highlight your partners.

1 comment:

richm29 said...


Very timely article for me. Thanks!

Rich Miller