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August 30, 2017
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September 20, 2017

How Will a New Disaster (or Two or Three) Affect Your Fundraising?

Hurricane season is not yet over. Nor is wildfire season.

Here in Boulder, we’ve been under a heavy layer of smoke from fires burning across the West. We have firefighters in our family who’ve been crisscrossing from Montana to Oregon to California and back again. We have other family members who’ve lost everything in Houston. And we have friends who are dealing with the aftermath of Irma in Florida.

We’re sure that you, too, are connected in some way to these crazy events.

Our hearts are with you and all the people across our country, and indeed the world, who are struggling right now.

As nonprofits, these disasters have the very real potential to impact fundraising in one way or another.

Either you’re on the front lines of providing aid to those affected and find yourself in urgent need of funds.

Or you are concerned that people might divert funds from your cause to disaster relief and leave you in a tough spot at year end.

Either way, the news for fundraisers is encouraging.

Americans have proven to be generous and they rise to the occasion in times of crisis. With few exceptions (like the recession of 2008/2009), giving goes up year after year. And that increase far surpasses any bumps from disaster giving.

For example, it is estimated that $421 million was donated to Sandy relief. That same year, overall giving went up by $11 billion.

In other words, people give a lot to disaster relief, but it is a relative drop in the bucket in the context of America’s philanthropic culture.

For those responding to disaster, this is the time to act fast. Be heartfelt, creative, and collaborative. People will respond.

For the rest of you, slow down for a couple of weeks and see how things pan out. Your work is still essential, your donors still love you, you are part of making the world better. Don’t abandon your fundraising. Keep it up – thoughtfully. You don’t want to offend anyone or burn any bridges by being impatient.

No matter your situation, be confident.

We’ve been through this before and Americans have proven their mettle every single time.


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