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    November 16, 2008

    The Agitator's agitating news

    Earlier this week, The Agitator came out with a survey of "Fundraising Vital Signs"-asked its fundraising readers to give input on the "state of the business." Basic summary of how fundraisers and the agencies who service them are feeling about our prospects? "Gloomy with gusting winds of cloudiness, and panic watches in effect."

    Prospecting is down (gasp!) and expected to stay that way. Many are cutting back in acquisition (a huge no no by the way-you are just killing your program 2 years from now). Imagine: we may finally be running out of retired Americans who we have not yet mailed at least 12 times and who are not currently getting at least 15 piece of mail a week from all of our competitors and who like to write checks.

    As the market tightens and those of our donors on a limited income feel the squeeze, it's no wonder most of us are gloomy about our chances of landing brand new donors. What happens to our industry when it's not that people don't want to give, they can't give because they have become the very ones many of us serve?

    In case this got lost somewhere in the translation of this blog, this is precisely the reason I am so adamant about expanding our "prospects" into generations who are only coming into their earnings peak, not aging out of it--because when my grandma tells me about the $60/month raise she might be getting from Social Security next year, and how that probably won't cover the increased cost of food, medical deductibles, and gas her and grandpa need for the car to go to the doctor and back, I wonder -- how many fewer charities will get grandma's $15 next year? I'd rather get $15 from someone who might go without an extra happy hour drink than from my grandma.

    Oh, and here is what respondent reported as savings his nonprofit cabooz this year:

    "The big bump this year for us has been online fundraising. It has more than made up for losses in our traditional mail fundraising. "

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