Maintaining Strong Development Functions During A Crisis Is Vital

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Keith H. Liederman, Ph.D.
Chief Executive Officer, Kingsley House

It seems like whenever we experience a crisis that adversely impacts our budget, the first arm nonprofits cut off is fundraising and development, the rationale being these are not “essential” programs and services. However, from our experiences over the past 15 years with multiple disasters here in Louisiana, these are precisely the times we should not only maintain these mission critical capacities but, whenever possible, strengthen them even further. Here’s why.

First and foremost, throughout a crisis, it is absolutely imperative to preserve our base of support, making the reduction/elimination of development staff counterintuitive. How else will we keep donors and other important stakeholders informed about our innovative and creative responses to emerging needs, as well as the most significant challenges we are facing? Maintaining high levels of connectivity and communication with our friends not only helps sustain those vital relationships but, often times, leads to enhanced levels of support!

Additionally, new funding opportunities almost always develop in the midst of a crisis. Without a strong development arm aggressively seeking out and quickly responding to those opportunities, we are likely to miss out on new partnerships and being an effective part of the solution.  Many times, successfully securing these new sources of support not only serves to sustain our “essential” programs and services but also helps us pivot these core resources to most effectively meet the emerging needs of those we serve and our community.

These are but a few of the compelling reasons fundraising and development staff are arguably the worst positions for nonprofits to cut during times of crisis.

Guest blogger Keith H. Liederman, Ph.D. is Chief Executive Officer of Kingsley House, an organization that has offered nationally accredited & state certified education, adult and community services in the Greater New Orleans area since 1896. For more information about Kingsley House, please visit