Thanks for asking!  This natural disaster is definitely top of mind and here at M. Gale & Associates. We have been having private conversations with our clients about this fundraising topic. Here are a few of our 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 disaster “recovery effort” begins. We instead suggest public acknowledgments 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; 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 disaster relief and recovery. It is important to ensure that their organizations have clear policies. Policies that the board has approved should be about how the funds will be used. Communicating these policies to every contributing donor is a must. 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 also recommend that if your organization is not affected by Harvey, all of your fundraising appeals should include an empathetic statement. Whether it’s on Hurrican Harvey or another natural disaster, reference that your organization is not affected. You can give 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 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.

M. Gale & Associates Team