$745 Million Dollars! And the Future of Fundraising?

The final tally is in -- Barack Obama's campaign raised a record $745 million. In the last few weeks of the campaign, one million donors (500,000 new and 500,000 recurring) donated $104 million.

In this crappy economy, does this foreshadow the (near-term at least) future of non-profit fundraising?

Anecdotal stories from fundraisers in the field suggest that right now, low- to mid-level donors are largely still giving, while major donors are sitting tight and watching the economy. The conventional wisdom here is that though the unemployment rate is on the rise, there are still plenty of folks with jobs who can give from their income -- the typical source of donation dollars for most givers.

In contrast, major donors generally give from appreciated assets. Though they still have plenty of dough, many wealthy folks have seen a steep drop in their stashes of cash. Times are tough for everyone who relies on the wealthy for their well-being -- even mistresses are feeling the pinch of hard times.

It's hard to say what will happen for nonprofit fundraising in the next few years. Various studies show that charitable giving tends to hold fairly steady through recessions, with a small drop seen about a year after the beginning of the recession (so, right around now). However, this recession seems poised to be fairly crazy, compared to other recessions.

Hold on fundraisers, it's gonna get weirder. And as Hunter S. Thompson once said, "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro."

Amanda JarmanComment