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Ongoing support is needed

Published by Graeme Russell on

As individuals, when disaster strikes we dig deep and give to a relief fund, often having to reduce or put a hold our regular giving.

For an organisation, there is likely to be an occasion when you’re income reduces as supporters divert their giving to a disaster relief fund.

How can this be managed, can it be managed?

Some organisations will have a contingency plan in place, others will have to fly by the seat of their pants; and just hope they can ride it out.

We need to keep in touch with our supporters, we need to perhaps acknowledge that we understand their giving to any relief fund,  and that we look forward to their continued support when they’re able.

I haven’t done any formal research, but been told by some people that anywhere from 15% to over 30% can be removed from the income of some organisations, when supporters reduce their giving to support a relief fund.

This must surely cause concern within some organisations; overheads still have to be met, outgoings for the services provided need to be met. I’d say there’d be some who would need to look at their situation closely.

How can we manage a contingency, not being an accountant I won’t get into the dollars, cents and percentages; instead I thought I’d look at this from a communication view.

I’ve already said that it’s important to stay in touch with your supporters. Perhaps you should get in early, within days of a disaster occurring and say let your supporters know that you understand that their support is important to both you, and the people affected by the disaster. That you understand that they’re likely caught in a catch 22 situation – where do they put their donation money.

It’s by being in touch with supporters; that your message, the importance of their support and the work of the organisation, will be kept in their mind.

Why have I raised this? Simply I had a conversation with someone recently who talked of the drop in ‘support income’ since the cyclones, flooding, earthquakes and fire that have devastated sizable communities; and cost the local economy, whole countries, many millions, if not billions of dollars in lost income, business that has come to a halt, consumers not spending  – perhaps moving away altogether.

The major relief organisations do need support, we can’t disregard that; perhaps as an organisation you could offer assistance to them. Do they have the capacity to field calls? Does your organisation have the capacity to assist? If so offer it. You’d hope someone would offer you the assistance if you needed it.

It’s important no matter what that you stay in touch with your supporters, your stakeholders; and that you offer support where you can. You can’t afford to sit back and stress that income may have stalled, and worry about how you’ll regain it – you need to act.

As individuals we need to remember the groups and individuals we normally support, and as soon as possible we must resume our giving to them.

As organisations, we must remain in contact with our regular supporters, to let them know they’re important to us and that we understand their need to support others when disaster strikes.


Graeme Russell

Graeme runs Adage Business, a boutique agency providing assistance to the not-for-profit sector to help them get their message out, helping them be heard through traditional and online media. He's passionate about new opportunities to get clients messages to market. Working with the not-for-profit sector he helps ensure this group receives the exposure it may not normally get. Graeme has been using social media for many of his clients and has seen some startling results; he enjoys the fluidity and connectivity that social media is able to give and bring to a campaign. He says social media needs to be recognised as two way communication that allows anyone to connect, collaborate and converse across a wide range of topics.

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