In 2007, most sectors of charitable giving reached their peak. In the Giving USA 2013 report, a clearer picture emerged as to when segments might return back to those levels. Of the eight segments analyzed, human services; health; international affairs; public benefits; environment/animals; education; arts &culture; and religion, only the first three have returned to pre-2008 levels. For groups in the environmental, education, arts, and religion segments, the return is at quite a distance. It is projected that it will take environmental causes four years to return to 2007 levels. The education segment is projected to return to pre-crash levels in 55 months, arts in 78 months and religion may never return to those levels.
While this is a chilling reminder of the long and twisting road back for most charitable segments, this data really presents an opportunity to focus on the long-term fundraising strategy of the organization. Building donor credibility and trust are important actions. As we look to raise funds from new donors and sources as well as maintaining our current loyal benefactors, we need to ask ourselves the following three questions:
- Are we clearly communicating the impact of our cause to our donors and showing how their support advances our mission?
- Are we engaging our donors in ways beyond soliciting gifts (eg. communication, volunteer opportunities, feedback)?
- How are we trying do all this in an environment of hyper-customer service?
Focus needs to be put on creating a culture of engagement, service and trust. People support what they know and help build. Your mission will speak to people, but, engagement will move people to action. Focusing on connecting donors through communication/feedback and volunteer and committee opportunities will not only build trust but will also give your donor a stake in your organization and give them a reason to support your organization.