Keeping Your Edge in Uncertain Times

Saying recent years have been “turbulent” is an understatement. Between the pandemic, supply chain issues, social change, rising costs and declining donors, non-profits are facing challenges unlike any we’ve seen before. And we are all worried about the current state of fundraising.

So, how can fundraisers go forward, keeping our edge in these uncertain times, in ways that ensure we don’t simply survive – we thrive?

In our recent webinar, Keeping Your Edge in Uncertain Times, moderated by ST’s Director, Fundraising Solutions, Donna Richardson, we addressed this critical issue.

We can’t manage global issues like supply chain issues, but we can and must learn to manage through them with grace and confidence.” Paula Attfield, CEO, ST

In our industry, we’re always adapting. Change is nothing new to any of us. But times have changed more than anyone could have anticipated. Our guiding principle during times like this is “if you can’t manage many of today’s issues, you can manage through them.” That means being alert, nimble, proactive and, especially, brave.

At ST we’ve put the F.A.S.T. philosophy into action for ourselves and our clients: Flexibility, Action, Sharing and Trust. And now you can take this successful approach too. Here’s how:

Flexibility. You must have your strategy in place, know your north star. But in these rapidly changing times, you need to be flexible. You need a Plan B. If B doesn’t work, go to C. Here are some examples:

Embracing and being prepared to be nimble in the digital space is crucial because it remains a largely untapped resource for many non-profits. ST has created impactful digital messaging while streamlining the process, and finding new audiences – for one client, digital revenue increased by over 400% since 2020. From Google Analytics to QR codes and beyond, we’re keeping abreast of the latest trends, and we know what’s working and what’s not. By growing our Strategic Solutions team, we’re helping our clients keep abreast of a mind-boggling array of digital opportunities.

But digital is nothing without all the other available fundraising channels. Direct mail continues to be a workhorse. And yet, with supply chain issues, envelopes and paper have been challenging to secure. ST increased the size of our production team to continue to get our print appeals out on time. By being nimble and adding resources, we’re helping our clients raise more money.

Action. The key to success right now is to take a more dynamic approach to strategy. These disruptions present a unique opportunity to reflect on everything we do, to learn and to grow.

In times like these, you need to look at fundraising through a broader lens and ask, is what you’ve been doing still effective today?

If there is a chance that you will not meet your goals, then look at ways to test and improve, or layer on to what you are doing. We encourage all non-profits to take action by thinking unconventionally, leaning into innovation and using strategic investment, to increase revenue and donor file size even during times like these.

Sharing & Trust

The “S.T.” in F.A.S.T. calls on you to be as transparent — with staff with donors, so everyone understands the mission, vision and values that drive your organization.

Sharing really is caring, especially when it comes to sharing resources. This is no time to be siloed. Marketing teams need to understand what the fundraisers are aiming to achieve and vice versa. Breaking down those internal silos, to ensuring that your messaging is on brand, relevant, authentic and consistent are key ways to maintaining great fundraising results.

Trust. Trust is crucial to any successful relationship. Times like these can test any relationship, even those that are decades old, and can never be taken for granted. You need to exceed expectations every day.

With more flexible and capable teams, smarter, more innovative ways of helping non-profits raise money, as well as transparency and clarity in communication, comes a lot more trust — in each other, in teams and from the clients and donors we’re working so hard to build long-lasting relationships with.

And yes, your donors are part of this too. They expect you to reach out to them, to be forthright about your problem(s), be authentic and give them the opportunity to help.

We hope you’re inspired to put F.A.S.T. into action to help you raise more money. Please take the time to watch – or watch for a second time – the entire webinar Keeping Your Edge in Uncertain Times, where our expert panel expands on these key issues.

Now more than ever is the time to keep calm and fundraise on!


Stephen Thomas

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