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When the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression hit in 2008, the nonprofit community wasn't ready. Endowments went into tailspins. Grant dollars dwindled as foundations cut or eliminated opportunities for new proposals. Funders circled the wagons around their favorite grantees, leaving many out in the cold. Nationally, individual giving dipped, and took many years to recover.

Get ready...
Hi! You're Our New Rainmaker

Good fundraisers were in greater demand than ever in 2008, but their employers hired with unrealistic expectations.

Help us get out of this massive hole! Make it rain!

Fundraising through a crisis is never fun, but it can be done. Cause Effective saw many clients continue to succeed in fundraising during the Great Recession, but they had laid the groundwork for continued support years before.

Word of a coming recession in the next year or two is in the air. Now is the time to prepare. But what steps should boards, executive directors and fundraisers take to prepare for the storm?
Fundraising Today For That Coming Rainy Day

First, make sure you have current, personalized relationships with your major donors. Now is the time to go deeper - reach out directly. Go talk with them about how they see current politics, get their take on your issues and share your aspirations. When confronted with a choice of allocating less funding among causes, you want your organization's needs and accomplishments to be top of mind among your big donors.

Use the tool of "insider access" to engage your supporters. Bring your donors, large and small, to feel like they're on your side of the table. This means sharing details on strategy and challenges as well as achievements - for example, the tale of how a worker-member identified their employer as some who shared a concern for ending ICE raids, which gave you a new voice to testify compellingly to get a "Safe Space for Immigrants" bill passed - rather than simply sharing the victory.

Your goal? To get donors to become so passionate about your cause that they open up their rolodexes as well as their wallets, and become proselytizers on your behalf. 
Everyone Needs To Grab An Oar

Second, motivate your board members to jump in with you. Have them conjure up just what an impending recession might mean for your clients and community. Help them feel the urgency of their working to pursue every available resource out there by pitching, advocating, turning over every stone to find potential fans, friends, donors, and rainmakers.

This is a time to transparently share your concerns with your board. While we're not advocating a "sky is falling" response, keeping up a brave front actually enables your board to believe you will make things all right, as usual, without them stepping up. Recruit an ally on the board to urge them to take joint responsibility for steering your organization through the upcoming difficult times.

Strangely enough, the upside to a funding crisis caused by an external factor like a recession is that it can really move an organization forward - it activates people who are normally complacent, because there's an urgent need (without a culture of blame).
Mix Up Your Revenue Sources

Finally, diversify, diversify, diversify. One thing we all learned from 2008 is that we can't predict with precision who's going to ride through unscathed and who's going to slip and dramatically fall.

The more options you have for funding, the more you can substitute one solid source for another that's skating on thin ice.

Listen for industry trends - not all areas of the economy will be affected equally by a potential downtown. Use occasions like recruiting special events honorees to build bridges to new industries that may be better able to weather a financial downturn in your area.
Pace Yourself

Recessions take a while to become full-blown, and on the far side, it takes time for their effects on the nonprofit sector to fade away. Your nonprofit needs to be in it for the long-haul, and you'll need stamina personally to function through the stress that's inherent in running a nonprofit through challenging economic times.

Put away money now, if you can, and invest in your development function and your relationships with folks who will help see your nonprofit through.

And breathe...
Cause Effective Can Help

As a nonprofit ourselves, Cause Effective is committed to helping nonprofit leaders raise more money and further engage their boards - in times both lean and flush. Contact us to harness our nearly 40 years of experience helping organizations uncover new resources and unleash their boards' fundraising and stewardship power.  

Judy Levine
Executive Director  
Cause Effective Around Town
Survey Findings, Anniversaries, Nonprofit Excellence Awards, Blog posts...and more! 
Cause Effective's Industry Insights Survey Findings Featured in Workshop on Advancing Nonprofit Development Professionals of Color

Save the date for AFP's Fundraising Day 2019. Cause Effective's David McGoy and Cynthia Reddrick will present highlights from our Development Professionals of Color Industry Insights Survey that was distributed earlier this year.

The goal of this survey was to inform Cause Effective's initiative supporting the advancement and leadership pipeline of nonprofit development professionals of color.

This will be the first time the findings will be presented, so please join us on June 14th!

New York Marriott Marquis
Friday, June 14th, 2019
S pecial Thanks to BNY Mellon

For support of Cause Effective's public workshop offerings
Anniversaries - An Opportunity Not to Be Missed!

Milestone anniversaries are meaningful pivot points in an organization's history and provide myriad opportunities to leap forward to a new level. Cause Effective helps our clients deliver not just a great night or even a successful year - but to position themselves to carry out their missions well into the future.
Working with Cause Effective on your anniversary campaign will help you use this special occasion to:

* Raise more money AND lay the foundation for future fundraising by mobilizing a broad group of donors as partners and askers

* Recruit new board members, volunteers, donors and other supporters to your cause

* Raise your organizational profile by connecting with diverse groups and individuals who may not ordinarily come into your daily orbit

* Create a compelling case for support to draw in champions around a unified and powerful vision for programmatic growth

* Recognize past, present and future friends and supporters, and engage them in helping to realize your vision for the future
Read more about Cause Effective anniversary campaigns and contact
to discuss a customized plan to meet your organization's needs. 
 Excellence Awards
To examine your organization's management practices and receive expert feedback to strengthen your ability to meet your mission,  every eligible nonprofit should consider applying for the 
Applications due 4/24/19 are currently being distributed.
Click here to find out more!  
From the Cause Effective Blog: 
Time for the Trees

I was at a one-topic board meeting last night. And, natch, the topic was fundraising.

The board deftly dispatched some legal issues, financial trend-spotting, and new program development in a half-hour - and took 5 minutes to recognize and thank the executive director for an extraordinary leadership effort in opening a new afterschool center. 
[Read more]
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For over 35 years, Cause Effective has strengthened the nonprofit sector by increasing the capacity of more than 5,000 nonprofits to build sustainable communities of supporters. We transform people, culture and systems, coaching nonprofits to learn, carry out and sustain new approaches to fundraising and board engagement.

To learn more, please visit www.causeeffective.org.