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Rossi’s Roundup: Summer vacation, AI and economic uncertainty

Email 5.23 Rossi’s Roundup (1)Schools are out, summer is here, and we’re halfway through 2023. In our industry, that means we turn our attention toward year-end fundraising plans. 

But don’t forget to take time for some self-care, too. 

Remember, you are not by nature a contented person—neither am I.  We work for, or on behalf of, nonprofit causes. It is in our nature to want things to be different, to want them to be better, to want them to be something other than they are. 

But when your pace of life is too fast for too long, it's time to pull back and recalibrate. We are just not wired to go full-bore, day after day. Eventually, something is going to go “boink,” and we are in for a system crash.

If you find yourself more easily angered than usual or if your reactions to events are starting to seem out of proportion to the actual situation, it is likely that you need to set aside some time for recalibration. Take a vacation with planned downtime to breathe and clear your mind.

In this month’s edition of Rossi’s Roundup, I wanted to share some of what I’ve been reading. Time to grab your favorite beverage and take a break.

1. Postage

Let’s talk about postage and budgets. I’m assuming everyone is either in the midst of their FY24 final budget approvals or moving into the budget process.

Here’s the reality: You must budget contingency dollars for 2024—at least 5% increase in postage for January and another 5% increase in postage for July. The U.S. Postal Service has made it clear that rates will increase every January and July.


Standardized first-class stamps were introduced in 1866 at 3 cents. Let’s look backward at the cost in decades:

  • 1973: 0.08₵
  • 1983: 0.20₵
  • 1993: 0.29₵
  • 2003: 0.37₵
  • 2013: 0.46₵
  • 2023: 0.63₵ & July 9th 0.66₵

Now let’s look at the cost overseas:

  • United Kingdom: £1.10 (U.S. $1.32)
  • Australia: $1.20 (U.S. $0.78)
  • Germany: 0.85€  (U.S. $0.91)
  • Canada: $1.30 (U.S. $0.95)
  • France: 1.43€ (U.S. $1.53)

Trust me, I understand that every increase is a strain on the budget and use of those hard-earned gifts from your organization’s donors.  But looking through a broader lens, our first-class stamp and other methods of mailing are still low when compared across the decades or with other countries.


2. Chatbot to Replace Human Staffers at Nonprofit Helpline

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) is disbanding its helpline in its current form, replacing hundreds of staffers and volunteers with a chatbot named Tessa.

Nearly 70,000 people reached out to the helpline last year, according to a recent NPR report. Those numbers doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic, when volunteers and staffers recalled more “crisis-type” situations, with callers reporting not only disordered eating, but also self-harm, suicidal thoughts and child abuse.

Lauren Smolar, Vice President, Mission and Education at NEDA, told NPR that the increase in crisis calls led to the volunteers being legally liable.

“Our volunteers are volunteers. They’re not professionals,” Smolar said. “They don’t have crisis training. And we really can’t accept that kind of responsibility. We really need them to go to those services who are appropriate.”

NEDA is no longer taking new calls or messages, and the transition to the Tessa chatbot is scheduled for June.


3. Tailoring Your Outreach — To Raise More

The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Charity Navigator's New “Impact Score” Tells  Us Little About a Nonprofit's True Value - Chicago BeyondThe biggest mistake fundraisers make when it comes to donor segmentation is not doing anything at all, often because they think they don’t have time.

  • Create a Plan. Think holistically about how you would want to be spoken to as a donor and create a plan to do that consistently over time.
  • Define your goal. To figure out how to group your donors, first determine what you hope to achieve.
  • Invest in helpful tools. You need a strong donor database.
  • Identify key segments. Understanding what donors know—or don’t—about your mission helps your team make certain that communications address any gaps and keep supporters engaged and giving.


4. Nonprofits Struggle as Recession Signs Grow More Pronounced  

Here’s a closer look at some of the economic data experts say nonprofit officials should be watching: inflation, stock market, unemployment and consumer confidence. Biggest change from my last touchpoint: Consumer Confidence (the squiggly arrow).


5. Data Shows GoFundMe Campaigns Work Well and Offers Insights for Online Fundraising

GoFundMe, which allows people to raise money for individuals in need, bought the Classy fundraising platform last year. “The State of Modern Philanthropy 2023,” a new report written by Classy, pulls data from the 34 million donors that use both platforms.

The report found that GoFundMe campaigns shared more than six times in the first few days are three times as likely to raise more donations than those shared less often

Other insight/highlights from the report cover:

  • Social media
  • Events
  • Make It Easy to pay
  • Recurring givers


6. 6 Ways to Take Action Amid Economic Uncertainty

The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Charity Navigator's New “Impact Score” Tells  Us Little About a Nonprofit's True Value - Chicago BeyondAnyone who shops for groceries, worries about recent bank failures or wonders how to save for things like car repairs or college tuition understands economic uncertainty. When nonprofits experience that same uncertainty, their leaders must not only deal with the financial implications but also continue to advance their missions, hire staff, and foster community wealth and well-being.

Here are six things nonprofits can do now:

  • Assess strengths, risks, and challenges.
  • Be open about your financial situation.
  • Coordinate and collaborate with peers.
  • Advance equity.
  • Reject the assumption that bigger is always better.
  • Reassure staff, if you are in a position to do so.

By analyzing an organization’s financial position, taking a collaborative and equity-centered approach to challenges, and communicating clearly and frequently with grant makers, staff members, and other stakeholders, nonprofit leaders can steady their course through choppy economic waters.

7. States Whose Economies Are Failing vs. States Whose Economies Are Thriving 

The U.S. economy has been all over the place in the last three years, thanks largely to the pandemic. But, as we noted last year, the effect is being felt differently in different areas.

In this report, we see which states are thriving and which ones are struggling in today’s economic environment. Here’s a sneak peek:

5 States Whose Economies Are Failing

  1. West Virginia
  2. Mississippi
  3. Louisiana
  4. New Mexico
  5. Ohio

5 States Whose Economies Are Thriving

  1. South Dakota
  2. Florida
  3. Idaho
  4. Utah
  5. Nebraska


8. Check out more great posts, podcasts and webinars

groupthinkersBlog updates:

Podcast updates:

 Past Webinar Recordings:

Lisa Rossi

Lisa has decades of experience working with animal welfare organizations. An accomplished fundraising strategist, Lisa helps our clients craft effective strategies that lead to growth and high-value donors.

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