Challenges in Philanthropy

Recently, I was asked what the “silver bullet” was  to help an organization reach its goal. Used as a metaphor for an effective single solution (and not as the image of The Lone Ranger’s calling card!), searching for a silver bullet for challenges in philanthropy is almost a pipe dream in today’s world.

I hear the same sentiment all the time from different board members and other development professionals. “There must be one big thing we need to focus our attention on if we want to reach our goal.” Social Media. New donors. More corporate giving. Grants and proposals. Foundations. Older or younger donors. The list goes on! Everyone wants an easy answer.

In reality, as with most things in life, there is no easy answer. The economic and political environment today is cautious and unsteady, and focusing on one “silver bullet” should not be your game plan.

It’s hard work to successfully reach fundraising goals, and with the looming end of the federal budget year approaching quickly (in September), it’s only going to get more complex for many health and human service organizations. With government funding as a large source of income for many organizations, waiting to see what happens with the sequester cuts has put some pressure and uncertainty on future budgets.

Congress will be making budget cuts that will likely affect everyone, and none of us are sure how looming tax law changes will impact charitable deductions in the near future.

Instead of searching in vain for that one silver bullet to help you with challenges in philanthropy, keep your focus on developing and maintaining an arsenal of tools, including the following:

  • Listen closely to your donors.
  • Diversify your solicitation and stewardship approaches.
  • Observe the differences in how different age groups give, and adapt your strategies to suit.
  • Tailor your message, and mission, to speak to those who care about your organization the most.

Actually, I can give you that silver bullet. Here it is: Continue to work strategically and thoughtfully to meet today’s challenges – and changes – in philanthropy, and be prepared to adapt to the changing climate and uncertainty of the times.

Hi Ho Silver! Away….!!!