My Sage Advice for Fundraising in 2023

Looking for a mantra to guide your fundraising program in 2023?

Here you go:

Stop freaking out.

Yes, fundraising is down virtually across the board. Yes, we’re coming off a very charged political year when progressive donors were pushed as never before online, in the mail, and on the phones. Yes, nonprofits had to compete with the deluge of political ads. The result? Exhausted donors.

Supporters did what they could, but times are tough, family budgets are pinched, and philanthropy sometimes must take a back seat. But I’m here to remind you that we’ve been here before. Many times. And you know this, but probably don’t want to think about it right now: Fundraising’s ups and downs are just part of fundraising.

And now is not the time to cut and run—if you ditch your donor acquisition program because times are tough now, you will only extend the pain later. Instead, invest in prospecting like a financial planner invests in a down market. Invest in prospecting like a Christmas tree farmer planting seedlings every single year. Invest in prospecting because if you don’t … you’re giving up on your future. Now is the time to be strategic and smart.

And look, there’s hope for 2023: Gas prices are falling. The Fed chair says the interest rate craziness might slow down soon. Americans continued to give millions on Giving Tuesday this year. All signs that fundraising will turn around, as it always does.

In the meantime, just stop freaking out. And remember that investments in prospecting today will reap rewards in the future when other organizations’ donor counts are down, and yours are holding strong. True, they may not be giving as much, but that’s yet another reason to keep incrementally upping your donor counts.

Budget for as much prospecting as you can reasonably afford—knowing that you’ll lose money now and make up for it later. Lose the freak-out attitude, make your best case for support, and just stay out there.

Jenny Allen
Principal & SVP

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