If you have been to the grocery store lately, I don’t have to explain to you that we are experiencing inflation. My guess is when the screen displayed the total due, you did a double take like I did. According to Forbes, inflation has hit its highest level since 1982. There is a general increase in the price level of nearly everything.
This is not a commentary on the economy. It is about how you, as nonprofit leaders, navigate uncertainty and position the valuable work you do as critical. There is wisdom in preparing and planning wisely, regardless of what economic indicators show.
I think there are five key guidelines to keep front of mind as you set priorities during inflation.
1. Be proactive.
Do not stick your head in the sand and hope your donors will not notice that their paycheck does not go as far as it used to. Instead, perhaps remind them of it. Remind them that inflation impacts you, too. It changes the cost of staffing, supplies, services, marketing, etc. It also impacts those you serve, which could increase the demand for your work. All of this means you need more money to have the same impact.
2. Make the case.
Ensure donors understand the need for your work and how the dynamics of the world today impact the work you do. Don’t assume they know. Don’t make it about your organization; the story donors want to hear is about those you serve. What are you doing to solve problems and serve people?
3. Don’t be shy.
Ask. Tell supporters what their investment in the work accomplishes. Whether it is lives saved, clean water, food security, evangelism, education, literacy, or support for families, reporting important metrics allows donors to know the impact of an investment and what the next gift will accomplish.
4. Visit donors.
Work to connect face-to-face with major donors where possible. If coffee meetings or lunches are not feasible, connect through a screen or phone. Lack of connection is among the top reasons major donors stop giving. Major donors are not only the most impactful donors to your work, they are also often better positioned to handle the impact of inflation. Share the opportunity to give with appreciated assets. It is smart and more cost effective.
Who is doing work in your community, region, or cause area? What could you do together for greater impact? External pressure like economic inflation often inspires creativity and collaboration. Look for ways to collaborate with other organizations to grow your effectiveness and accomplish more together than individually. Tell donors about this collaboration. They want to solve problems and will be encouraged to learn of new engagements.
You have a unique opportunity to connect with donors on issues they are thinking about daily. Don’t worry about it, ignore it, or pretend it will go away. Face it head on.