There’s a lot of noise out there about how inflation and a troubled economy are going to impact giving trends. And in many of our sector’s media channels, there are articles and news releases telling us to expect a drop in giving in the coming months and year.

It seems logical. Things cost more. People are squeezed. So they’ll give less.

Yep… they will give less… unless you present them with something they are really passionate about.

Pay attention to the focus of your ask, too. During stressful times, it’s easy to become very self-focused before you even realize it. And it will show up in the way you ask. For example: “Giving is down, so we need your help to avoid deep cuts” is a very organization-focused type of ask. Think about this. Who wants to give to help you avoid deep cuts? Hardly anyone finds this inspiring. And giving to your organization will go down.

But if your ask perfectly matches your donor’s passions and interests, and if you explain in human and emotional terms what happens if the need is not met, there is high probability that the donor will give. Why? Because they deeply care about what you are presenting to them. And even in times of financial difficulty the human spirit rises to be others-oriented versus self-oriented. It’s an amazing thing to see.

In 2020 when COVID-19 was ravaging the world, we saw revenue with most of our clients rise 23% from the year before.

Why? Because frontline fundraisers were disciplined in matching their asks to donor interests.

It’s about that simple. And we’ve experienced this truth in economic downturns like in 2008. Somehow, through the force of caring, donors rise up to help others and the planet even if they are feeling the squeeze themselves.

You may be reading this and saying: “Yes, nice thoughts and words. But don’t tell me that all the donors just keep giving. That just can’t be true.” You’re right. They do not all keep giving at the same levels. But even the donors who can’t give as they did last time – those donors still muster up the motivation and caring to give what they can, even in hard times. And those who can give more actually do, making up the difference. And the whole thing nets out, in our experience, to generous and robust giving.

All this to say the following: rather than look at the future weeks, months, and year through a lens of fear and handwringing about giving trends, use your energy instead to spend the time communicating properly to each of your donors. And by “properly” I mean work twice as hard to make all your communication fit the donor’s interests and passions. That, my friend, will provide your organization the best protection against inflation, recession, and risks of reduced giving.

And it will continue to provide your donors with exactly what they want: a way to express concern and care for the planet and others while they journey through more difficult times.