Much like a lot of items on the shelves, gas prices are high right now. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the average price of unleaded fuel in the U.S. hit the $5/gallon mark on June 13; up 13 cents from the week prior.1 According to CNBC, American households are expected to spend $5,000 on gasoline this year, up from $2,800 just a year ago.2 This increase will cause many to feel the pinch in their wallet. For your nonprofit, the donors at the top end of your donor file may not be impacted as much by that increase, but the majority of your donors will be.
There is a strong correlation between gas prices and consumer confidence. As gas prices go up, consumer confidence goes down. The Consumer Confidence Index is an indicator meant to provide predictions of future consumption or savings by US households. Consumers that are willing to spend are also willing to donate more frequently. Unfortunately, the Consumer Confidence Index is at its lowest point since 2011.3 That is not a good sign for overall charitable giving.
But what does it mean for your organization and your fundraising budget?
As a nonprofit leader you may be tempted to look at the economic indicators and begin to pull back on your marketing and fundraising efforts. If giving is going to be down for factors you can’t control, then you can at least save some of your fundraising budget, right?
Unfortunately, that mindset tends to exacerbate the issue. If you decrease your marketing and fundraising budget, your revenue will decrease. Rather than pull back, you should be asking, “how do I optimize my fundraising efforts?” It is more important than ever to be sure that you are getting the most out of every dollar you spend on fundraising.
Are you targeting the right donors? Are you using the most effective marketing channels? Are you testing various ads and messages with your donors? Is your giving form optimized for conversion? Are you converting one-time donors to monthly donors?
If your cause was worth supporting when gas prices were low, then it is still worth supporting when they are high. It may just mean that you need to refine your messaging and marketing efforts to be sure that you are getting the most out of every fundraising dollar.
Don’t give in to the temptation to reduce spending. Instead, focus your attention on optimization. That will serve you well when the economy is down and make you even more ready for growth when the economy turns around.
1 U.S. Energy Information Administration: Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Update
2 CNBC: Households are now spending an estimated $5,000 a year on gasoline
3 OECD: Consumer Confidence Index