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Waterville, ME April 14, 2008 — Experts still debate whether it is a recession but fundraising expert Marc A. Pitman author of the new book Ask Without Fear! claims now could be the best time for charities to recession-proof their fundraising.

Weak economies can force to be leaner and more efficient. When the economy rebounds, they’re in a much better position to take advantage of it. Weak economies can also be perilous times for nonprofits. When faced with a recession, many nonprofits may bad choices that limit their growth or cause them to fail.

According to Pitman, the best way to recession-proof a nonprofit is be avoiding the deadly mistakes of: spending less on fundraising, becoming pessimistic, and apologizing when for asking

Everyone has heard that it takes money to make money. This is true in the nonprofit world too. But when money is tight cutting costly mailings and fundraising activities might seem like obvious opportunities. Pitman says to exercise extreme caution.

Most fundraising efforts can be tweaked to improve their effectiveness. These tweaks can either reduce cost or increase money raised. But a fundraising effort never raises more money by simply being eliminated.

In a recent study conducted by Pitman, he discovered his organization’s direct mail program raised more money during the years they sent out more letters. He was surprised. He had worked for a couple years to eliminate mailings and focus exclusively on the people deemed most likely to make a gift. But in that time, their annual fund dropped by around 30%. This year they have increased the number of mailings and have already raised as much in six months as they did the entire previous year.

Spending less on fundraising can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Less investment can result in less being raised which leads to further cuts and even less raised. Tighten budgets where necessary but be very careful when making cuts to fundraising programs.

Pitman says the next way to weather a recession is by not becoming pessimistic. The top fundraising professionals are some of the most optimistic people alive. The minute they start being gloomy, people begin holding on to their wallets. Pitman encourages them to continue to shed light on the good things happening around them. He says, “Even clouds of recession have silver linings.” Charity leaders need to constantly look out for those linings and call them to the attention of others.

The third mistake to avoid in times of recession is to get awkward about asking for donations. Timidity is a sure way to raise less money. Pitman stresses the need to continue getting out and inviting donors to give. His new book Ask Without Fear! specifically teaches board members and volunteers how to overcome their fear of asking.

He is not advocating being brash or arrogant. Fundraisers do need to understand that in a recession many of their donors may not be able to give at the same level. This is where they can be compassionate and understanding. And their relaxed understanding of people’s financial realities can make them even stronger proponents of their organizations in the future.

But, Pitman stresses, there is nothing compassionate about not asking.

Whether the economy is in a recession or not, a sure way to raise less money is to stop asking for it. “Keep on making wise investments in fundraising efforts, stay upbeat, and continue to compassionately raise support, ” says Pitman, “and you’ll protect your nonprofit in times of recession while helping your donors become evangelists for your cause.”

For specific information on how to strengthen relationships with donors and overcome the fear of asking, Pitman’s book Ask Without Fear! is being released on Amazon in the coming week. Or go to http://askwithoutfear.com .


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