"We're a little nervous about how Hurricane Harvey is going to affect our fundraising here in Dallas. Any thoughts?"

Thanks for asking!  Yes, this is definitely top of mind and here at M. Gale & Associates we have been having private conversations with our clients on this topic.  Here are a few thoughts:

  • Take a Break – We recommended that our clients take a break from transactional fundraising for the time of immediate crisis, meaning no social media appeals, no direct mail appeals and no email appeals until the “recovery effort” begins. What we suggest instead is public acknowledgements and sympathies for those affected, including similar nonprofit organizations.
  • Don’t be Opportunistic – Don’t jump on the fundraising bandwagon for the disaster unless your organization is actually being impacted programmatically and even then proceed with caution.  From a public relations perspective, you don’t want your organization to appear to be opportunistic.
  • Have clear policies about how funds will be handled – In the same vein, we caution organizations who are accepting donations or creating funds for Harvey relief and recovery to ensure that their organizations have clear policies that the board has approved for how the funds will be used and that these policies are clearly communicated to every donor that makes a contribution to the fund.  Be sure to include some steps for how your organization will handle these restricted funds if they grow beyond the restricted need.  Several national organizations are still dealing with donor and public outrage over this issue, years after their mistakes.
  • Continue participation in North Texas Giving Day – North Texas Giving Day is coming up quickly and the Communities Foundation is pressing on.  They have advised organizations to continue their fundraising drives.  We would add to this recommendation that if your organization is not affected by Harvey that all of your fundraising appeals should include an empathetic statement on Harvey, reference to the fact that your organization is not affected, and a statement about the need for your organization to continue advocating for your mission/clients.  An example is below:

While we have not seen any impact to our programs and operations here as a result of Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath, our hearts and prayers go out to our sister organizations in the Houston area who continue to help (mission/client population) despite the flooding and physical devastation in the area.  With more than # of people in need of our services (be specific to your mission here), we must move continue to advocate and serve here in (location).

If you have a specific question about your organization’s fundraising during this time, please do not hesitate to reach out to us for a free consult.

Sincerely,
M. Gale & Associates Team