As a nonprofit fundraiser, only so much is under your control. You shape strategy, email volume, tactics, and more, but there are factors that no one can predict, let alone control. 

The nature of the news is frenetic and fluctuating. At any given moment, world events, social movements, and all manner of crises can shift the fundraising environment as they unfold. These critical factors take up space in your donors’ social media feeds, minds, and wallets, which impacts their generosity and the funds you are able to raise. 

 

As year-end—the most critical time to gain support for your nonprofit’s mission—kicks into high gear, explore this guide to maximize your fundraising revenue as you navigate the news cycle with care and authenticity. 

 

5 Do’s and Don’t of Navigating the News Cycle When Fundraising

 

1. DO Read the Room + Contextualize the Moment

Don’t ignore current events, and DO recognize whether the news affects your mission directly. If it does, contextualize the moment in your ongoing strategy, when appropriate, by making your messaging current and any ties to headlines prominent. Share how your organization is directly impacted or involved in the situation, which will position your fundraising as an integral part of ensuring this work, aid, or care can be completed. 

 

In the midst of a crisis, utilize crisis communications and rapid response messaging principles to adjust your fundraising tone and tactics. When something terrible has happened in your community or the world, dial down any extremely casual or humorous appeals. This will help ward off any misunderstandings from donors, and avoid perceptions of insensitivity. 

 

2.  DON’T Give Up Before You’ve Begun

Don’t stop asking your audience for support. While a brief campaign pause to adjust strategy or tone may be appropriate, many nonprofits pull back entirely on any fundraising asks when major events or crises hit the trending charts. Just because your issue isn’t the top headline doesn’t mean your cause doesn’t matter. Sharing your nonprofit’s need for donors’ contributions (in an authentic and conscientious manner) helps remind them that your cause is important and that they can make an impact. Additionally, organizations that continue fundraising will be further ahead of those who halt efforts altogether. 

3. DO Adjust Your Projections + Goals

As you continue fundraising, you may need to adjust your expectations of how much you will raise to account for the current news cycle and the space it’s taking up in your donors’ lives. When calculating and communicating projections, set realistic goals and be conservative in your estimates. Don’t assume that growth will be linear from one year to the next in this scenario. It’s always better to surpass modest projections than write a check you can’t cash for reasons beyond your control. When the news cycle settles, you will still be able to work toward your original goals and make up the difference later on.

 

4. DO Prioritize the Most Competitive Giving Moments

It’s tempting to shy away from busy fundraising moments—especially during drastic news cycle shifts—with the assumption that your message will be drowned out. However, Media Cause’s fundraising experts have consistently found the opposite to be true. Across clients, big and small, Giving Tuesday and the final days of the year are the highest yielders, with few exceptions. Even as the news cycle continues and events unfold, your organization can still see strong year-end support. Be sure to maximize these crucial timeframes. 

 

5. DO Double Down on Tactics that Work + Lean into Momentum

Is your adjusted strategy for major events showing promise? Is your Giving Tuesday arc going extremely well? Seize this success with added email volume (we love a non-opener resend!), match extensions, and more. You can’t count on having the same momentum later in the giving season—so when you’ve got it, use it! 

 

It All Boils Down to This

 

Consider the full context of the current news cycle, set clear and realistic expectations, and then get to work fundraising. Once everything is up and running, optimize what’s in your control. When you mount the most urgent, timely case for support that you have, your donors are sure to respond.

 

Don’t be bashful about asking for money, or asking for help should you need it. 

 

What are you waiting for? Go raise some funds, and do some good!

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