3 min read ✭ In this post, you’ll learn how to recession-proof your nonprofit by weathering the storm and seizing opportunity.

While achieving your nonprofit’s revenue and fundraising goals can be incredibly difficult during an economic downturn, it’s certainly not impossible. 

If your organization is pre-wired with a foolproof recession strategy, then it’s actually possible for your organization to seize growth opportunities during the trying times of market volatility. Gearing your nonprofit up to execute decisively and effectively can get you further than only weathering the storm. 

As nonprofit leaders, we are not only in stressful situations, but we are in unprecedented times. The foreseeable future is not going to be easy. As changemakers, however, we are born for times like these, for ensuring that we rebound stronger than before. 

When faced with a recession, there are two key phases that your organization’s leadership team needs to be aware of:

1. Weather the storm

2. Seize opportunity

Weathering the Storm

Your first priority should be to ensure that your team, your organization, and your people are going to be safe. To do this effectively, it’s important to address the three F’s when dealing with a crisis: fear, focus, and forecasts. 

Naturally, your team might be overwhelmed with the uncertainty. That is normal. However, you have the opportunity to choose how you react in these moments and how much you let your energy levels and emotional state affect your decision making. Stay centered and certainly be realistic, but don’t make big decisions that are driven by pure emotion. 

Focus on what matters, prioritize your organization’s top goals, and assign accountability on how and when to get them done.

Seizing Opportunity

Once you weather the storm, it’s time to forecast. 

It’s imperative to be a hyper-realist during a recession. Forecasting your organization’s revenue will help you to understand possible scenarios, their variations and how your organization can withstand each potential situation through decisive action.

While charitable giving has taken a bit of a dip over the course of the past month or so, it’s interesting to see that nonprofits actually experienced job growth and added more employees during the previous recession. 

That being said, certain sub-sectors are affected differently than others. Take some time to understand where your organization lies and forecast your most likely scenario as well as your worst-case scenario. Forecasting worst-case scenarios is one of those things that nobody wants to have to think about it, but not planning how your organization would respond in the event of the worst-case might actually result in the worst case. 

In your forecasting and scenario planning, it’s not recommended cutting down on your development team, marketing plans or advertising spend. On the contrary, it’s the time to be doubling down on each of those areas. Keep in mind that you’ll need more help to stay top of mind, not less. 

Fundraising during economic uncertainty or times of crisis is acceptable. Without being tone-deaf to the circumstances, it’s good to give people a positive goal to work towards collectively. Make sure you’re staying up to date on How to Adjust Your Fundraising Appeals During a Crisis through channels like social media, digital marketing, and more. 

Staying Ahead of the Curve

Overall, it’s important to ensure your organization has a strong crisis response strategy in order to recession-proof your nonprofit. For more information on how to set your nonprofit up for success, check out our webinar on the 5 Principles to Manage Through a Recession

Watch our on-demand webinar with Cindi Phallen of Create Possibility to learn more about how these five principles will help you stay ahead of the curve in a crisis:

  1. Practice Focused, Courageous Leadership
  2. Obsess Over Finances
  3. Invest More Into Marketing
  4. Every Day We’re Fundraising
  5. Move Faster & Seize Opportunity

If you have any questions on how to continue strategizing for your nonprofit during these times, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us below. We exist to empower organizations like yours.

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