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Dr. Tricia Derges founded nonprofit clinic Lift Up Someone Today, where she works with a volunteer team to bring medical, dental and mental health services to those in need.
2019 Projection: Donor fatigue continues to storm on nonprofits, calling for greater collaboration and more creative fundraising.
SBJ: How do you describe the current state of nonprofits heading into 2019?
Derges: There are a ton of (nonprofits) out there and a lot of them are duplicating services. It takes what few dollars are out there that people are donating and forcing people to make a decision sometimes between the same type of nonprofit or charity to help. It really splits the money out. I’d love to see us coming together and putting similar services together.
SBJ: How does donor fatigue play into this?
Derges: Donor fatigue is very much at the root of all this. There are so many charities today. When you give people too many choices, they choose not to make a choice. The desire for people to give and wanting to help is just as strong as it ever has been and even more so today because there are so many people in need. The problem is they just don’t know where to go and what to do.
SBJ: What’s the remedy?
Derges: If you’re all about giving to someone to have something to eat, there are a number of organizations that do that. Then maybe there is a main center hub, and your donation can go right into that, and then each one that deals with that particular area can take a percentage of whatever has been donated. Most donors want to know that their help is staying in the area. There should be some type of report system. This is where our money goes. There needs to be more clarity where those funds go and what they are used for.
At the end of the day, how much is going to the person it helps? How many people are you actually serving? We have to battle for every dollar. Every charity has a good cause, there just needs to be a lot more education for donors.
SBJ: Do you think forming a large Springfield nonprofit collaboration like you described could ever be feasible?
Derges: I think it’s possible. Community Foundation of the Ozarks is already doing something along those lines, and Drury (University’s Center for Nonprofit Leadership). It just needs to grow bigger to incorporate what nonprofits are out there and be really good about putting the clarity out there and the bottom line. The collaboration, I think, is very critical to this area and would make a large difference and maybe be key to fixing this donor fatigue. There would be more benefit for everybody involved, instead of everybody trying to fight for a piece of the pie. There’s strength in numbers and we could see amazing things.
SBJ: With funding concerns, how are nonprofits handling hiring and employee retention?
Derges: A business is a business. Anytime a nonprofit is bringing in enough money, they can put staff where they need to. If revenues are down, someone’s got to cut somewhere unless they want to start volunteering. Across the board, nonprofits have commented that funding is down this year. Some are huge and large enough that being down is not going to affect anything they do, especially if they are part of a nationwide nonprofit. The ones that will be impacted the most are local, smaller ones.
SBJ: How is fundraising changing?
Derges: Things have been done the same way year after year. People are tired of that. Our work is becoming more electronic and changing all the time. People are very busy. They don’t have time to stop and go to an auction. Charities tend to look more into electronic kind of things that work in people’s fast schedule. Social media can help. There’s always creativity and thinking outside of the box – coming up with something that’s never been done before at a fundraiser that gets people excited. They love it and they love it even more if, at the end of the day, it genuinely benefits someone.
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