The secondary impact of hurricanes

By Jack Doyle, Amergent President

I have received a LOT of questions on this subject and I’m seeking advice. One answer isn’t suitable for all.

A great number of people have lost everything. They need a LOT of our dollars and our prayers. They will need both for a long time as they try to recover.

I cringe a bit when I read or hear on the news that these were natural disasters. These were devastating and extraordinary catastrophes.

In prior years, the post office would issue a list of post offices not accepting mail for delivery and we’d all comply. That dealt with the mail going into these areas.

We are dealing with large populations in Florida and Texas and Hispanic donors who live in Puerto Rico represent 25%-35% of some clients’ entire Hispanic donor file. This means the income stream expected for their programs that are supported by these donors has been cut off—and will be for years.

What should you be doing?

Personally, we’re praying for them and sending them money.

Professionally we’re doing everything possible to make sure your program is going to be at a higher level at the end of the year than at the start of the year. Steps to consider include:

  1. Assess how much money was raised in each of these three areas and others negatively impacted by the hurricanes. Look at what you raised in all of 2016, 2015 and 2014.
  2. Then look closely at what you raised in these affected areas in the months of September, October, November and December. You are NOT going to be seeing these levels of income in 2017 and for many, many years from Puerto Rico.
  3. Share the likely financial loss you expect to see with all the donors for the rest of the year.
  4. You can ask donors not directly impacted by the hurricanes to help YOU with an extra gift every chance they can—to raise the funds needed to sustain your programs and faithfully fulfill the mission for which you exist.
  5. This is a call for increased response so assure all donors that all gifts make a difference and no gift is too small. On the other hand, put an extra effort into asking your donor-advised fund donors to dig deep and grant a large gift right now.
  6. Donors who have lost nothing related to hurricanes should feel blessed and lucky. Unfortunately, too many people were not as fortunate. The Golden Rule in all faiths inspires us to help all those less fortunate than ourselves.
  7. Not only should you be asking donors to make more gifts, you should be contacting more prospects and lapsed donors to share the same message—a financial shortfall (caused by the hurricanes) needs to be avoided now to avoid cutting back on services.
  8. Some of the loyal donors who’ve lost everything to the hurricanes have been supporting worthy causes for 25+ years. They enjoy giving love and support just like everyone else. However, every ounce of energy and all their resources now need to be focused locally within their own communities.
  9. You will all feel the loss of their support—you need to find others to help pick up the burden of funding your missions.

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