Challenging Economic Times
Written during the recession of 2008 by Jerold Panas
I hear it often: “People are worried about the future . . . the times aren’t good . . . the market is down, and folks won’t give.” But I have been hearing some trustees make those same observations for the past 30 years. When you look at the data, it is quite clear that giving is not based on the economy.
I’ll repeat that. I take my cue from Teddy Roosevelt who said, quite apologetically: “Retelling and iteration are necessary in order to hammer the truths and principles I advocate into the heads of people who require repetition.” Giving is not based on the economy.
When the economy declines, philanthropy continues to increase — although at a slower pace.
Yes. Philanthropy continues to grow. Even in the most difficult of times.
In boom periods, Americans give a lower percentage of their income. But in challenging economic times, they give more. That’s right — more!
We are all faced with extraordinary opportunities . . . brilliantly disguised as impossible situations. The best time to raise money is when you are prepared. You can raise money — but only if your organization is ready. Nothing else is of greater significance. No other consideration is as important.
Look at it this way. What happens if you don’t quite make it because of the economy? Objectives that aren’t fully met are not the great failure in life — the great tragedy is not having objectives and not making the attempt.
Waiting for precisely the right time to raise money, and waiting for the economy to improve, is not necessarily prudent.
What is truly good stewardship is taking the time and thought to prepare properly. Creatively conceived, carefully prepared, and tightly organized fundraising programs win — in both good times and bad.
Is there a good time to raise money? Yes. When you are ready. That is a good time to raise money. Not one day before.
Challenging Economic Times Can Be Good!
Here’s what is most fascinating. There are actually important advantages in raising funds in challenging times.
1. You will plan and prepare more carefully. There will be riveting attention to detail.
2. You will settle only for first-choice leaders. And you are more likely to enlist the best because competition for their time will be less demanding.
3. Your leaders will take their campaign responsibilities more seriously. They will understand the need for longer and more careful preparation and will appreciate the higher standards of selection and performance.
4. There will be fewer competing campaigns to interfere with your prospective givers.
5. The fact that your organization is seeking a major goal in the face of challenging economic conditions underscores the importance and urgency of the cause.