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  • Writer's pictureTed Priestly

Raising Money in a Time of Uncertainty

Organizations of all ages and levels have been confronted by the sheer reality that they need to develop a secondary plan for revenue that relies on more than just tuition and/or participant fees, and embrace the world of fundraising and/or sponsorship.

Budgets are being slashed nationwide, and programs are being eliminated due to the current economic downfall, no matter what the Dow Jones is telling us.

The COVID-19 pandemic has hurt a lot of people in a lot of different ways…and so the question remains: is it appropriate to ask people for financial support in this day and age?

The answer is absolutely what is the best way forward for your organization?

First, I suggest that you look inward and ask yourself: do we have a noble mission?

Does your team or organization make a difference in the lives of people, and will donor support ensure that this generation has a better chance at a better tomorrow? If so, you have every right to ask for help. If not, you may need to reflect upon your mission or your motives.

The truth of the matter is this: either your organization matters to people or it does not. It’s just that simple, and the extent to which they do care relies greatly on your ability and willingness to tell your story. If you believe in your mission, then tell your story and let the people decide whether or not it resonates with them.

Do not assume that people will not support you simply because this is an uncertain time, because in many ways, that uncertainty is exactly why you should be asking for support.

Companies, foundations and individuals are still being approached on a daily basis by organizations that need to raise funds, and most of those donor/sponsor prospects still are functioning at close to normal levels. In other words, yours will not be the only request that they receive today.

Your program or organization’s ability (or inability) to survive this economic crisis is actually one the most important and compelling reasons why you should be asking for support…it is not a reason for you to remain silent, rather it is burning platform that should spark concern with your constituents about what happens if/when the status quo remains the same.

Don’t let your organization drift towards insolvency simply because you weren’t able or willing to tell your story or ask for donor/sponsor support during an uncertain time.

Ok…but how do you ask for money when so many people are struggling?

This is important: don’t ask potential donors to support the ‘extras’ at a time like this. Ask for the stuff that truly matters.

Most people have limited their philanthropy to mission-driven organizations that make a difference in this world, and for whom an experience or benefit would otherwise not be possible without donor support. Here are a few examples from

We raise money for sports organizations that benefit kids of all ages, colors and backgrounds, from youth level and club all the way up to college, and there is one undeniable truth: at all levels, it takes money for kids to play…and team and program budgets are being slashed on a daily basis.

How do they make up the difference between what they now have and what they still need? How do they maintain a level of participatory and/or competitive relevance (if not excellence)? How do they fund their program essentials (scholarships, travel, uniforms)?

The answer is simple: Fundraising.

If sports (and other affinities) truly matter in the lives of young people (which they do), and lead to healthier choices and lifestyles (which they do) and pathways to a brighter, more successful tomorrow (which they do), then you should feel entirely justified in raising money on their behalf, and on behalf of a brighter tomorrow for everyone.

We raise money for kids and families fighting pediatric cancer ( because we all know that cancer doesn’t take a break for pandemics, and neither do the endless bills that threaten to bankrupt families dealing with this dreaded disease. It is never a bad time to ask someone to help these amazing children and their families.

We raise money so that families affected by the COVID-19 crisis can still find a way for their child(ren) to play. Many of our friends and family members have fallen on hard times- if we can help, we want to...and we do not mind being asked.

I am not raising money right now for the ‘extras’ that can wait for the more stable, more predictable and more appropriate days that surely lie ahead. It just doesn’t feel right at this point in time, so I’m not doing it, and I would probably discourage others from doing it as well.

When better days arrive, and when it is finally appropriate to do so (and those days are undoubtedly ahead, my friends), I will be there to help with those ‘nice to have’ projects and initiatives that just make things fun.

Until then, however- if yours is a noble mission, you have every right to ask for support.

Wishing you and yours all the very best – stay safe, and good luck!

Ted Priestly


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