It’s All Up to You Now

It’s that time of year once again. It’s the season when most charities raise the most amount of money, perhaps because that’s when most fundraising activity happens. However, how tough will it be to raise money as the end of 2019 approaches?

You might be concerned about a recession on the horizon. You should be. We’re experiencing a record for sustained economic growth that quite simply can’t go on forever. A recession is bound to hit eventually even without factoring in trade wars, political turmoil, disruptions to the global oil supply, and the threat of foreign wars.

Among ultra-wealthy Americans, those with an average worth of $1.2 billion, 55 percent believe the US will enter a recession within the next year, according to the UBS Global Family Office Report. About 45 percent of respondents are sufficiently concerned that they are boosting their cash reserves, and 45 percent are realigning their investment strategies to mitigate risk.

While recession fears loom, a major economic downturn has yet to take shape. In other words, the economic climate is currently good from a fundraiser’s perspective. Could it be better? Sure. Always. But, it’s plenty good enough for you to anticipate a successful year-end fundraising effort. Consider some of the following six economic factors (as of Oct 4, 2019):

Gross Domestic Product. GDP is growing at a rate of 2.0 percent. Overall philanthropy historically correlates closely with GDP. So, if GDP goes up, we can anticipate that philanthropic giving will also increase.

Unemployment. The national unemployment rate is 3.5 percent, the lowest since 1969. If more people are working, more people will likely have funds with which they can donate.

Wages. Wages have increased 2.9 percent over 2018. Individual giving closely correlates to personal income. So, if personal income is rising, we can anticipate a rise in individual philanthropy.

Stock Market. The stock market, while volatile, has been performing well. This year, the Dow is up 13.92 percent, the NASDAQ is up 20.30 percent, and the S&P is up 17.76 percent. This is good for fundraising for two important reasons worth mentioning here. First, stock growth means that foundations and donor-advised funds will have more money with which to donate. Second, many individuals own stocks that have appreciated in value. When donating appreciated stocks, individual donors can avoid capital gains tax. In other words, even if someone can’t claim a charitable gift deduction under the current tax code, they can still derive a tax benefit by contributing appreciated securities.

Consumer Confidence. The Consumer Confidence Index stands at 125.1. While this represents a decline since August, the Index remains above the 120.2 level at the start of the year. People who are more optimistic about the economy are likely to be more willing to donate rather than increase their rainy-day reserves.

Consumer Spending. The National Retail Federation projects holiday spending will rise 3.8 – 4.2 percent this year. While people are willing to spend more and are in the giving spirit, it presents an opportunity for nonprofit organizations. If Walmart and Amazon can anticipate a revenue increase, why can’t your organization?

That question actually brings me to the headline of this post: It’s all up to you now.

While 2020 might be a challenging year for fundraisers, the economic indicators for 2019 remain good. That means you have a great opportunity to acquire new donors, and renew and upgrade the giving of your existing supporters.

Reaping the rewards of the economy will not come automatically. We still need to do the hard fundraising work. However, the opportunity for success is there. It’s all up to you now. You need to:

  • create a strong, inspiring case for support.
  • gather moving stories ready to share.
  • send targeted appeals.
  • get out of the office and visit with prospects and donors.
  • seek planned gifts such as gifts of stock.
  • thank donors and let them know the impact they are having.

Those are just some of the things you should be thinking about now. The opportunity to raise money is there. But, reaching your goal is not a slam dunk unless you do the work. The economy is good. Your efforts will not be wasted. Go forward with confidence. You can raise a lot of money before the close of 2019. Do it now. It might not be as easy in 2020.

What new things are you doing to maximize fundraising results in 2019?

That’s what Michael Rosen says… What do you say?

4 Comments to “It’s All Up to You Now”

  1. Great information. Relevant stats. Agree completely with your analysis.

  2. Excellent column Michael – thank you!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: