Good Plans and Great Talent don’t determine your fundraising success or failure

Whether your fundraising results are up or down may have less to do with what you’re doing (or not doing) than you think.

The common conception is that the, well-designed events, campaigns, direct mail, compelling mission, online domination, superior fund raising talent, strategic planning, and strong leadership are what drive charitable giving results. Unfortunately, the truth is more sobering and hard to swallow.

Economic and demographic factors, combined with the effects of world, national, regional or even local events are the lead drivers of charitable giving outcomes.

Look at it this way, you can spend $8 million on an America’s Cup yacht and several million more on a talented crew but if there is no wind, that boat is going nowhere fast. US charitable giving is similar.

You can have the best plan, the best event, the best mission, and the best talent but if the economic, demographic, and event winds aren’t blowing your way – results will be disappointing, at best.

Some charities and churches rely on lots of small gifts from lots of donors. If unemployment/underemployment is high, those organizations are going to suffer – as they did during the Great Recession.

Conversely, an accelerating stock market is great news for NPOs that live by the campaign like colleges and universities. Gifts (and pledges) of appreciated assets make campaigns thrive. These organizations felt no pain from the recession but are now feeling some pain.

Current events can also make a huge difference. 2001 was looking like a pretty good giving year until 9/11. Then the change was immediate. If you were not a disaster related charity, your giving basically shut down for 6 months before it began to return to normal levels. Disaster related organizations however enjoyed spectacular giving results for many months.

Current economic factors, demographics and current events determine your giving results – much more than the talent of your fund raising staff, your events, your mission, and your strategic plan for fund raising.

How you raise money and from whom and when make have more to do with your success or failure than your great plans or superior talent. Economic and demographic factors, along with current events are the largest determiners of your fund raising success. If you time your efforts correctly – you win. If you don’t anticipate changes in the giving environment or guess wrong – you lose.

The Atlas of Giving has determined the economic, demographic and event factors and their relative strengths for 9 giving sectors, 4 sources of giving, and for all 50 states and DC. We’ve developed 65 algorithms that we are constantly improving to determine giving in the US. And we provide the only reliable, consistently updated forecast for giving. Read our monthly updates… they are free. The reports will help you win.