Fundraising During National Disasters


The overwhelming misery and human need emerging from the recent hurricanes impacting Florida, Texas and Louisiana have prompted Americans of good will to give generously to charities who provide direct aid to the victims. Athletes, celebrities and civic leaders have stepped forward and provided leadership for donations to meet the enormous needs of our fellow citizens.

It is inspiring to see the nation come together, putting aside differences, with generous donations in times of national disaster. History would suggest that millions of individual Americans will donate to relief organizations in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

As fundraisers, we wonder if donor fatigue sets in, and if maybe we should put a pause on our own fundraising efforts until the unfolding human tragedy fades from the front pages and the nightly news broadcasts. The answer is an emphatic NO!

We know at least two things from prior national emergencies. One is that the increased giving to meet the emergency will persist into the second year, so it makes absolutely no sense to try to “wait out” the period of donations to relief organizations.

The second thing we know is that there is no evidence of diminished giving to other non-profits following national disasters. Now is still the best time and the only time to make the case in the strongest possible terms, for financial support for your organization. Fundraising is not a zero sum enterprise. You are not competing for limited dollars with the legitimate and compelling needs of other people. You are only competing to tap in to the endless generosity of the human heart.

Remember, people give to your mission. Your mission is important to your donors before, during, and after a national emergency. If you haven’t already done so, make a donation to a relief organization to help the victims of the hurricanes. But after you do so, get to work on your next fundraising appeal for your non-profit organization!

by: Steven Murphy, Ed.D., Senior Advisor, HUB Philanthropic Solutions


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