Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Answer is 42! - Or Is It?

At breakfast today we were talking about one of our favourite family books, “A Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams. In this book the answer to life, the universe and everything turns out to be 42. There is one small problem though: no one knows what the ultimate question is.

Since early October fundraisers all around the world seem to be looking for the ultimate answer for how to deal with the current economic crisis. Many consultants have been very accommodating. We have all received a wide range of very good free advice. There is this great blog keeping its finger on the pulse and uniting us globally in a conversation. Many consultancy firms are working hard to stay in front of us and provide what seems like almost weekly updates – filling up our in box with all sorts of useful information. Or is it?

I wonder how useful it is for fundraisers to be bombarded with daily almost hourly messages about the fact we are in a very serious economic crisis and we should be very worried?

Let’s not get too distracted by all these messages about the economy. The very basics of good fundraising still apply. The most important of which is probably:


Another HGTGism but also point number one in the most recent and probably the best and most useful articles I have read on the subject of Fundraising in Tough Economic Times. In this paper Mal Warwick and Dan Doyle offer different strategies and choices for us to consider. Most of it is just common sense and good business and should be applied year round.

The truth is we don’t have control of this situation, nor have we seen it before. This isn’t a natural disaster or terrorist attacks. People aren’t dying by the hundred’s, they are loosing investments, houses and jobs. We can’t predict what might happen with our charity. Each one of our donors will be impacted differently. Staying in touch with them and providing excellent service is really just good fundraising at any time.

Like our donors we are all different, some of us have reserves, some don’t. Some have a solid monthly giving program some of us don’t. Some of us are dependant on corporate support and events, some of us have mature legacy programs in place.

How you respond will ultimately depend on what the “Ultimate Question” is for your charity.

So long and thanks for all the fish...

Thank you for spending time here.


  1. I think the same rule applies to donors. We all know the economy isn't great - duh!

    If there's a good reason to discuss it, then do so. If a donor brings it up - by all means address it.

    I do not, however, think we need to open the discussion with that focus. It feels a lot like making excuses... either for our own lack of performance - or giving our donors an excuse.

    People are gonna give what they can, when they can. Our job is to make inspire them to choose our organization and to make it as easy and fulfilling as possible for them to do so when they've made that choice.

  2. Great Point Laurie.

    Laura Fredericks talked about each major donor being a "campaign of one". This is very reflective of my recent experience talking to donors. Some haven't been hit at all, some are really struggling to make ends meet and keep their business going, some can only fulfill half their 2008 pledge and feel horrible about it.

    Excellent points. Thank you for participating.