Members of my college fraternity have a tradition when writing to fellow members. At the end of the correspondence, “Pergé” is inserted.
It’s meaning? Press On!
This encouragement feels relevant for the times we’re living in, where it’s easy to succumb to inaction in hope that clarity will arrive tomorrow. Questions swirl for which we don’t have answers. Will our donors feel financially secure enough to give this year? Will they feel accept in-person meetings? Are they okay with video meetings? Can we gather constituents for events this year? If not, can we adequately replace this engagement through virtual means?
Maybe it’s hyperbole, but I believe this statement worth absorbing: The next 90-180 days will shape your fundraising results for the next 3-5 years.
That is a bold presupposition. But based on what we’re seeing so far, too many Advancement teams are taking the wrong version of these two distinct paths forward:
- The wait-and-see-path of pausing gift invitations that seem courteous and sensitive to the times we’re living in, or
- The path of bold action and confident gift invitations, knowing that our mission is more important than ever and even more worthy of philanthropic investment than ever.
I hope you’re on that second path. If not, shift to it and press on!
Trying to time donor behavior like a stockbroker tries to time the market is a lesson in futility in this environment. As is seeking direction from recent donor surveys: data from Give.org, the LendingTree, and Fidelity Charitable all reveal that donors are standing ready to help us move our mission forward, but also embedded in those same survey results are less than rosy outlooks on giving. Relying on survey data to determine your path forward will make your head spin.
Unless your prospective donors know how they can help, or that you even need help, you won’t receive their support. Whether or not they can help is not within our control.
Suspended engagement won’t inspire a donor to think, “they are so courteous by not communicating with me.” Generous people don’t stop becoming generous during times like this. But if they’re financially impacted, they may narrow their charitable giving priorities to fewer institutions. Inaction won’t help you there, either.
July is traditionally the month for fine-tuning plans for the forthcoming year. Never has this been more important than now. Keep working to finish those plans. Over the next week, I’ll provide you with some ideas for your annual giving, major gift, and planned giving programs that you can consider integrating into this year’s plan.
Until then, press on!