There's no doubt that 2020 will go down as one of the most remarkable years in our history.

A global pandemic has killed 183,000 Americans (and counting).

The outcome of the 2020 general election has tremendous health, economic and social implications.

We're less than a week into the aftermath of one of the strongest hurricanes to hit the U.S. And wildfires continue to rage across California.

You might think it's a perfect storm - that rare combination of events or circumstances, creating an unusually bad situation.

I think it's a perfect opportunity for fundraisers. Let me explain.

I've written before about raising money during the coronavirus.

I've written about raising money during an election year.

And I've written about raising money after a hurricane and what donors do after a natural disaster.

Not only is it possible to raise money, it's imperative that you do.

After all, your work matters.

It matters to the people you serve. Or the animals you save. Or the planet you protect.

And your work matters to your donors.

This post offers a bit of inspiration and a few words of wisdom from other voices in the sector.


With everything going on in the world, it's easy to think that this might not be the time to ask for support.

After all, COVID-19 has created a situation where unemployment is at a record high. At the same time, the stock market is nearly at a record high.

Beyond that, there's a simple fundraising truth: Givers give. They don't stop, even during hard times.

Consider this commentary from fundraising titan Jerry Panas. He wrote it in 2008 at the height of the Great Recession. His words still ring true today, in these most unusual times.

It's a puzzling phenomenon. It may seem counterintuitive, but in tough financial times people actually give more.

Americans support those organizations they believe in. They have never failed.


In a terrific post from Blue Frog London, Mark Phillips summarizes his best fundraising advice on an index card.

Among other sage advice, he writes this on that card:

People need

  1. To help at a financial level appropriate to what they can afford.
  2. To believe they can make a difference.

Remember, even in the best of times, not everyone can afford to support your work at the same level.

And, in the worst of times, there are donors who still want to support you.

But you have to ask.


At a virtual Fundraising Summit this summer, Mark Philips said,

Donors assume, if they aren't hearing from a charity, the charity doesn't need them or their help.

In that same Summit, Mark offered these nuggets:

If donors value your work, they will keep giving...
But if you don't ask, they think you don't need...
We must not say "no" on donors' behalf.

As Andy Robinson explains in How to Raise $500 to $5,000 from Almost Anyone,

The asker - that's you - asks for the gift. The decider says, 'Yes, I choose to give' or 'No, I'm sorry, I choose not to give.'

Do not confuse these two jobs.

Jeff Brooks weighed in on his blog in a post called " The way COVID-19 WILL destroy your fundraising -- if you let it."

Whatever you do, don't cancel fundraising...

Fundraising you don't do is guaranteed zero revenue. It's also lost opportunity that you can never get back.


Don't decide for your donors, whether or not they'll give this year.

Plan your year-end campaign, and send your year-end appeal like you would any other year.

Give donors the opportunity to donate. Give them the choice. And let them decide.

Here are two parting thoughts from Jerry Panas and Jeff Brooks.

Look at it this way. The real loser is not the campaign that raises only 85% of its goal. The great failure is the campaign that never gets off the launching pad. Zero! 85% beats zero any day. ( Jerry Panas)
Let your donors be heroes and help you get through it. ( Jeff Brooks)

Remember, this perfect storm could be your perfect opportunity.

Photo credit(s): Pixabay

Need help planning your year-end campaign? Or just writing a terrific appeal letter? Laura Rhodes can help.

Send a message to start the conversation and learn how Laura can help you and your organization.

You may also be interested in upcoming training events.