Fundraising in an Unpredictable Market

During a recession the one thing we can be sure of is that we will be fundraising in an unpredictable market. In the 1980s and 1990s, fundraisers had few reference points to enable them to look back at and learn from the past, but today we have a wealth of quite recent experience to draw on and we have a number of new tools in our armoury, including monthly direct debit based regular giving programmes, digital media and the donor journey.

To survive and thrive in an unpredictable market requires a 10 point plan:

  1. Actively embrace change
  2. Systematically monitor market changes
  3. Nurture your fundraising team
  4. Work even harder to stand out from the crowd
  5. Focus on sustainable income streams
  6. Prioritise profit over growth
  7. Invest in your core business – your best supporters, those fundraising programmes which generate the most net sustainable income
  8. Prune your non-core business selectively
  9. Keep testing
  10. Innovate


The current recession could be an opportunity to invest in the future of fundraising. If we follow this approach, in 2 or 3 years we could be looking at another big step up for the professionalism of our fundraising. We hope that this will include a major transformation in the extent to which fundraising through digital media and social networking is a mainstream programme. If we emerge from this recession with a win such as this, we will be able to look back on this recession as not just a short-term problem, but also as a time of investment in the longer term growth of our fundraising capabilities.

This post is based on the chapter “Fundraising in an Unpredictable Market” written by Margaret Bennett and Tony Elischer of THINK Consulting Solutions. The chapter is part of the newly published book Managing in a Downturn: Staying Solvent and Surviving Well published by The Directory of Social Change. You can purchase the book for £18.95 + p&p from the DSC website.

For our lucky users the full chapter ‘Fundraising in an Unpredictable Market’ is available to download for free!

Also look out for an interview with me at the IFC, which will be on our website shortly.

Categories: Charities, Charity Trends, Community Fundraising, Recession

Resource Type: Blog

Posted by Beccy Murrell

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