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Strategies for Overcoming the Global Financial Crisis

(Oct. 27, 2008) Nearly 100 leading fundraisers from around the world have provided new strategies and tactics for charities to survive and prosper in the current global financial crisis.

In a new survey developed by The Resource Alliance and The Management Centre, an international consulting firm, leading fundraising practitioners, researchers and thinkers were asked how serious the financial crisis is, who will be affected the most and what strategies fundraisers should adopt. Some of the key results were:

  • Almost 40 percent of respondents believe that the best response is to fight for market share now—expansion is the only option.
  • European and North American fundraisers are more optimistic than their African or Asian counterparts
  • Globally, respondents believe that the three areas most likely to be impacted on are arts and culture, international development and animal welfare
  • Respondents were also in agreement that children’s causes, emergency relief, medical and faith-based causes would be least affected.

The global survey was undertaken by The Management Centre as part of the International Fundraising Conference that was held earlier in October of this year. The perspectives were analyzed by the Centre as a whole and by regional groupings, but the most important information for fundraisers can be found in the unedited responses submitted by the respondents.

Just some of the ideas and strategies offered by these experts to deal with the global financial crisis include:

  • The strategic and tactical decisions made by charities will have more influence on their fortunes than the recession itself. Charities have more control than they think they do so long as they focus on the fundamentals of their programs, do not panic and focus on the long-term.
  • Board members and senior management need to understand the current financial data and stop making unrealistic expectations.
  • Work like a for-profit organization and accept reduced short-term growth in service expenditures to gain increased long-term growth.
  • Develop messages, themes and scripts around why we need our donors now more than ever and offering downgrading or payment holidays for donors who might otherwise not give or cancel their gifts.
  • Strengthen current partnerships to weather the storm rather than looking for new ones. Look at what you do best and focus on that before trying a new tactic. Examine where your money comes from and concentrate on high-yield activities.
  • Focus on the big three areas—regular giving, major gifts and bequest/legacy programs. Drop all other marginal or unprofitable activities that won’t provide significant long-term benefits either.
  • Organizations should continue to market and conduct bequest and legacy programs. It may not make any difference this year but you’ll be in a lot better position next year than will other organizations.
  • Invest time, intelligence and money in massively improving the donor experience with the charity. Remind donors that they are wanted, needed and appreciated.

These are just some of the comments and ideas included in the report that can be found in the Attachments section below.

About the Survey

The survey was conducted online in early April, and 94 out of 100 fundraisers responded. Respondents were from North America, Asia, Europe, Africa, Australia and the Middle East, and the survey made an effort to avoid any American/European bias.

The Management Centre is a global management consulting firm working exclusively with nonprofits with offices in the UK, USA, Australia, Singapore, Brazil and Mexico.

The Resource Alliance is a UK-registered charity whose mission is to build the fundraising capabilities of the nonprofit sector worldwide. The Alliance holds the International Fundraising Conference every year.


Global Fundraising Confidence Survey — PDF Format, 212226KB

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