Will BREXIT Affect Fundraising?

Dear Kim,

Will BREXIT affect fundraising?

~Remaining Calm but Asking Questions

Dear Questions,

The BREXIT vote, for anyone coming back from an off-the-grid vacation, is the recent decision by a very small majority of people in the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. British fundraisers are picking themselves up after this surprising, and for most of us, disappointing, vote. Fundraising in the United Kingdom will be affected as their currency plunges, grants and contracts with the EU have to be renegotiated, and general consumer uncertainty causes people to be more cautious about giving. Whether this will come across the pond to the US is not clear. The stock market took a steep plunge on Friday but it will probably rebound. Very few American jobs depend on the EU so we should be fine.

However, the BREXIT raises two larger concerns.   One is the ability of nonprofits, particularly grassroots nonprofits, to weather sudden economic changes. I would suggest that every nonprofit use this summer, which is traditionally a little slower than the rest of the year, to think about contingency plans. How much do you have in reserve and should you build that? Are you over reliant on a few foundations or a few individuals and how can you spread your risk over more people and places? And a question you should always be asking and answering: are you building a strong base of loyal donors who will continue to give year in and year out, market up and market down, election or no election?

For help in answering these questions, please consider attending GIFT’s Money for our Movements Conference this August 12-14 in Denver. 

And two: what should all nonprofits be doing about the rising anti-immigrant sentiment that propelled BREXIT to victory, and is a key driver in the current race for US President? We cannot leave the fight to immigrant rights groups alone. Simply condemning anti-immigrant sentiment as racist and xenophobic is not enough. Something every organization can do is work to get out the vote. The turnout for the BREXIT vote was very high by American standards: 72 percent of eligible voters. The final vote was 52 percent to 48 percent. Imagine if just 5 percent more people had turned out in areas where the vote to stay was strong, the election would have gone the way it was predicted. Nonprofit organizations can easily reach thousands of people. We have boards, we have staff, we have volunteers and many nonprofits have constituents. We are a trusted source of information and we need to use our clout in the coming months.

Make sure everyone in your organization who can vote, does vote. Consider making voting a requirement of board membership. Give staff time off to vote. For very specific practical help with all of this, see: http://standforyourmission.org/ and http://www.nonprofitvote.org/.

~Kim Klein