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A time for fundraising fundamentals

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Ret Boney and Todd Cohen

In fiscal 2009, Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, saw a big drop in the number of “leadership” gifts ranging from $2,500 to $10,000.

One year later, the number of those gifts had returned nearly to previous levels.

A key factor in the rebound was the school’s decision to generally not ask donors for major gifts but rather to “have conversations with people about the importance of maintaining leadership giving” to the annual fund, says Randy Shaw, the school’s vice president for development and alumni relations.

The last three years have been difficult for nonprofits of all types, with most seeing fundraising slow down and the need for services speed up.

To turn that around, and to prepare for the possibility that donors may never return to their pre-recession levels of generosity, nonprofits and fundraising foundations are working to better engage the donors they do have.

“It’s particularly important in challenging economic times that you maintain those relationships, to give them an honest picture of the organization and to show them how their gifts are used and why their gifts are needed,” says Cindy Clark, vice president for development at Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region in Charlotte, N.C.

Nearly two-and-a-half years after the bottom fell out of the economy, nonprofits increasingly are getting back to fundraising basics while also adapting traditional strategies to take advantage of new tools such as social media.

In this special report on fundraising, the Philanthropy Journal looks at approaches nonprofits are taking to secure annual, major, campaign and planned gifts.

Stories in this Special Report on fundraising:

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