Small, Local Groups Struggling to Keep Donors

Dear Kim,

I work in an arts program that serves very poor public schools in a very poor state. Without us, 2nd -5th graders in public schools in our area would have NO arts program at all. We have no government funding and little foundation funding. We have built a base of donors and we squeeze every nickel. This year I am so discouraged by the number of donors who have said they are cutting back their giving so they can give to the ACLU or Planned Parenthood. For the record, I totally support those organizations and what they do, but how can I keep our donors? What we do is still important.

~In Despair

Dear Despair,

I feel for you. People are freaking out and they think donating to these iconic organizations is the only hope we have of remaining a democracy. What small organizations like yours have to do is stay the course. You said your donors have cut back, which means they did not cut you out altogether. I am hearing this from many small local organizations and I think your donors will return to you when things settle down a little. Meanwhile, keep in touch with them, thank them for what they have done, and keep looking for more donors. Also, make a list of the donors who are closest to your organization and who give the biggest gifts and contact them. Either go to see them or talk to them on the phone and ask them to increase their gift. You can easily make a case that children must be able to experience art in order to appreciate beauty, express their creativity, work with complexity and have fun. You are so right that what you do is still important. Your donors will soon remember that and will return.

Hang in there.

~Kim Klein