Stop Making Excuses—The Economy is not the Problem

Just recently, in the August 29th electronic edition of the Chronicle of Philanthropy there was an article about how the recession caused a drop in giving by individuals from $172 Billion in 2008 down to $158 Billion in 2009.

The first sentence in the article reads:

“Many fundraisers say they still can’t raise as much as they did before the economy soured in 2008.  Particularly difficult to come by, they say, are gifts from affluent donors.”

First, I want to know who “they” are, and what “many” fundraisers means.  Because, I’ve got to tell you, for the fundraisers who are working their plan and know their donors, I’m not seeing this.  In fact, of the over 55 or so MGO’s that our team works with on a consistent basis, NONE are experiencing lower revenue from their caseloads than they saw BEFORE the recession.

The article goes on to say:

“As the nation is about to mark the fourth year since the collapse of the financial markets, many fundraisers had expected gifts from the wealthy to have recovered by now, especially given the gains in the stock market that have helped many affluent people rebuild their net worth.  But, this isn’t happening, some experts say, because donors feel so shaky about the economy and uncertain whether Congress will raise tax rates or limit charitable deductions.”

Again, I’m not seeing this.  I believe that of out of all the MGO’s we work with, I’ve heard about one donor who was waiting to see what Congress was going to do on taxes before deciding on the AMOUNT of his gift – and that was not whether he was going to give, but how much.

Besides, the vast majority of donors who have been polled about this are really not considering the tax deduction as a major reason for giving or not.

What’s weird is that I received a number of e-mails from former colleagues forwarding this article to me basically saying, “See?  This must be why my client is down in revenue.”  I just about blew a gasket.

What’s even weirder is that I wrote on essentially the same subject almost a year ago to the date based on what I was hearing in the market and reading in articles in fundraising journals.

What is it about the end of summer that brings this stuff up?  I mean, how long are we going to use the Great Recession as an excuse for why our donors are not giving more?

Let’s stop it NOW!

Going back to the blog post from last year I make a big deal about the fact that if you have a healthy caseload you can always whether any storm.  I list 7 quick tips to help you know if you have a healthy caseload.

I’ll remind you of the most important one here :  #7, Work YOUR Plan.  Richard and I have found that when an MGO or Development Director or President of a non-profit is truly executing their strategic plan…they win!

Look, you’re always going to have some donors on your caseload who won’t make goal for one reason or another.  Your job is to make sure that reason is NOT because you didn’t do your job.

I have to tell you, I’m not sure who the Chronicle of Philanthropy interviews for these articles (they hardly ever say), but it’s certainly not fundraisers who are working their plans and who know their donors.  So, if you see any more of these articles floating around out there, don’t believe them.  They are just fodder for fundraisers who, when revenue is down, like to use things they can’t control as their reason.

I’m not going to let them get away with it.



About Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry

Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry have over 55 years of experience fundraising for non-profits. Richard Perry was co-owner of Domain Group until 2005. Jeff Schreifels was a Senior Strategist for Domain Group for 12 years. They came together a few years ago to start Veritus Group, a full-service major gift fundraising agency. Veritus Group has a unique, data-driven approach unlike any agency focused on major gifts. Jeff and Richard are passionate about their work, passionate about life and hopes this blog will provide you with insights and tangible benefits for you and your work. Thank you for reading!
This entry was posted in Development Directors, Major Gift Officers, Major Gifts, Marketing Plans, Non-Profits, Philanthopy. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Stop Making Excuses—The Economy is not the Problem

  1. Jeff, you are the best!! I’ve been the lone fundraiser for two small non-profits for the past 5 years, and I also have never experienced a drop in funding from since 2008. I have always made my goals for individual donors and events. Thank you for being so quick to stomp out this fire of easy excuses. I saw the article in the Chronicle and was also upset by it.

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