Survival Strategies

The following survival strategies for an organization during difficult economic times have been adapted from various sources:
  • Manage your organization's finances frugally.
    • Involve board members and staff in discussions regarding your organization's finances.
    • Analyze revenue streams, pledge collections, and what is causing any shrinkages in your contributions. Determine which corrective actions are appropriate.
    • Review all line items in your organization's budget.
    • Ruthlessly cut costs to reduce expenses. Examine your operations to cut costs (shut down copiers and printers, reduce postage, pay bills electronically, use scanners and email). By saving money your organization will be "raising money."
      • Make cuts judiciously.staff are your most precious resource. Downsizing should be a last resort. You need experienced people to do the extra work now. Prioritize which vacancies must be replaced. Weigh contractual services against staff salaries and benefits.
      • Collaborate with like-minded nonprofits.
      • Look into renegotiating your rent/lease. Landlords who prefer less revenue than vacant office space may be flexible.
    • Scale back on travel and invest in conference calls, virtual meetings and webinars.
    • Transfer some savings to enhance service delivery to clients and your ability to respond to donors.

  • Be flexible with donors.
    • If a donor cannot match their previous pledge, they may be willing to:
      • Give the amount over a longer time period.
      • Donate money to a more valuable area of your organization.
      • Reallocate money pledged for a capital campaign to a more immediate need.
      • Accept donations of volunteer time and in-kind contributions until donors have the capacity to give cash again. Keep your relationship active and loyal.
      • Make a bequest instead of immediately pledging money.

  • Recruit volunteers to help you manage volunteers.


  • Diversify your revenue streams. Most experts recommend that nonprofits should have no less than three to four types of revenue (earned income, foundation grants, individual donors, government grants, etc.). In developing and expanding your organization's earned income lines, you ensure that the organization is under any threshold that might compromise your tax-exempt status.


  • Make a more compelling case for giving.
    • Stay focused on your organization's mission, image and value.
    • Build a stronger and more urgent case for giving.
      • Articulate current and increased needs with facts.
      • Focus on the message and educate donors on critical needs.
      • Motivate potential donors by demonstrating the impact contributions have made on your park and/or programs.
    • Document best case and worst case scenarios for donors.
    • Don't abandon long term strategies.

  • Connect with every donor.
    • Invest time, money and insights to improve their donor experience and satisfaction from giving.
      • Remind donors they are wanted and appreciated.
      • Focus attention on existing donors.they know you.
      • Personally acknowledge all donor contributions in a very timely and personal manner. Make them feel appreciated now more than ever.
      • Communicate the results of gifts online and in correspondence.
      • Profile donors and their inspiration for giving on your webpage and in publications.
      • Communicate frequently and effectively.
      • Communicate to inform, build relationships and a "family" sense of park stewardship. Not every communication should be an ask for money.

  • Ask your board members and volunteers to take a more active role in donor relations, communications, cultivation and recruitment. Encourage them to host donor cultivation and fundraising events. Enlist them to help develop personal contacts, make calls and draft letters to donors.


  • Continue to build your board capacity by recruiting people who can give and get others to give. Ensure that you have a true fundraising board.


  • Connect individually, but do not ignore power and efficiency of the Internet to raise funds. Online donations can be a low cost fundraising tool, and provide a good return on the investment to develop more effective online giving capabilities and motivations on your organization's website
    • Increasing online marketing can pay off with limited investment in staff time and money.
    • Offer alternate payment plans for large pledges.

Further reading on how your organization can survive an economic downturn can be found within the links below.