Sunday, April 21, 2013

The One Fund Boston Raised More Than $7 Million In 24 Hours

Immediately following the horror of the Boston Marathon bombing came bravery, selflessness, and assistance from first responders, medical professionals, and the general public.  The horrific footage of the bombing shows the deranged cowardice of the violent act but it also shares the tremendous humanity in response.  The support and selflessness continued thereafter.

The One Fund Boston , started by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, raised more than $7 million for the people "...most effected by the blast..." during the Boston Marathon, " help the more than 180 people wounded...".

Even those of us miles and miles away from Boston or West or the flooding Midwest have hoped for speedy recovery and justice.  We see more, too.

There has been much in the nonprofit sector's press (including in this very blog) about the economy, during the past five years, and the difficulties nonprofits face in raising support during such a downturn.  Most recently, pending cuts for nonprofit support in federal and state budget have been of great concern; and in some places this is further compounded by states and counties considering or attempting to tax nonprofits while removing the tax exemption from donations to shore up their own budgets.

This tragedy and the fallout for Bostonians during the manhunt are extraordinary, so yes, this raised a great amount of money in a short time in part because of the extreme nature of the situation.  Still, the outpouring of support for the Boston victims and their families demonstrates two things.  First, Americans will still donate to a cause they believe merits their financial support (just as they always have).  Second, nonprofit entities can and still do raise significant funds.

True, the economic landscape looks different today than it did five or ten years ago for us nonprofit organizations.  Yes, today, raising support requires reaching yet more potential new donors while retaining the donors that an organization already has.  Nonprofits must make their way with their own operating budgets cutting costs.  Nothing, today, is easier about nonprofit operations than it was years ago.  We all know, too, that no one said it would be.

In this economic downturn, we've all known this is a new age in fundraising.  The same principles still apply and they still work, though.  If a nonprofit is doing work it has the staff and expertise to succeed at, professionally, and can deliver its programs efficiently - and if it is an as yet unmet need that the organization's programs are answering - if people believe in the issue and the beneficiaries' need they will give.  This has always been the case and it still is.  The case has to be made, though.  CNN and much as any proactive fundraising made the case for the tragedies of last week, but the fact is - if a nonprofit makes the case one way or another - it does not matter.  If the case it makes is compelling people will give.

Too, if a nonprofit distributes most of each dollar raised to the intended beneficiaries achieving the stated goals amid those beneficiaries then they not only retain current supporters but raise new donors who stick around.  If you thank your donor but later let them know, too, what their dollar achieved and how valuable their contribution - a partnership with your nonprofit - is to your organization then you are clarifying what they've achieved in the partnership and contribution.  How do they know if you don't let them know these facts?  Why wouldn't you let them know of these achievements and successes?

Each and every donor gives in order for their dollar to do good - whatever the nonprofit's mission and programs goals state.  When their dollar, through the organization's work, does that good - and when the donor is made aware of what their support enabled the agency to achieve, then the partnership between the donor and the organization, or rather the partnership between the nonprofit and its community is not only strengthened - it succeeds.

This is where we are today, and it's how the most successful fundraising worked five and ten years ago, as well.  We can all achieve more for our viable and needed nonprofits by making the case to our donors and informing them, afterward, of the good their contribution achieved.

The One Fund Boston raised more than $7 million in 24 hours, in this economy.

Update: One Fund Boston's Rapid Response

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