By Kristi Howard Shultz
As we embark on this new year, the pandemic continues to reshape nonprofits’ work in profound and unprecedented ways, but knowledge and insights gained in the past 12 months can position organizations for success in 2021.
Fundraisers can create powerful, positive fundraising plans with these 10 tips gleaned from new research, expertise, and professional practice.
1. Seek relief funding
Relief funding came to the rescue in 2020. As COVID-19 began to spread early in the year, numerous community foundations and United Ways quickly established new funds or activated existing emergency funds, as research by Laurie Paarlberg and colleagues at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy found. This response to short- and long-term community needs included collaborations with community partners, corporations and local governments. Relief, recovery, and capacity building funds likely will continue to be a key resource into 2021.
2. Find new ways to collaborate
In addition to philanthropic collaborations with community foundations, seek new partners in places you might not have looked previously. Lake Institute on Faith & Giving found that 33 percent of congregations raised funds to support other congregations and nonprofits in need. Religious organizations, like many others, made the pivot to online services during the pandemic, with more than half reporting an increase in participation. What can you learn from religious organizations and others with membership models? How can you collaborate to raise more money?
3. Build community virtually
Online community building will be a permanent part of nonprofit-donor relationships. This type of community building appeals to women in particular. In fact, Women Give 2020 found that women are giving more gifts and a greater proportion of total dollars on tech platforms, and that women’s and girls’ causes receive substantially more online support from women donors. Technology enables women to give according to their preference. Create a strategy to highlight the women and girls you serve and offer more opportunities for online giving.
4. Tell your story
Cultivating your constituents thoughtfully has never been more important. Keep telling your story and engaging your donors. Then, they will be prepared to lean in and give more, as soon as they can. As we saw throughout the challenges of the past year, philanthropy remains a core value for many people.
During a Mays Family Institute on Diverse Philanthropy discussion on racial justice, Marc Morial of the National Urban League and Tony Mason of the Indianapolis Urban League shared this, and other, key learnings. They encouraged nonprofit professionals to take advice from those who’ve been there before, and to be intentional in our partnerships. How can we learn from others to meet the needs of the people we serve? Who could you reach out to today?
6. Engage all of your donors
Racial justice giving is booming. From crowdfunding for victims’ families to direct support for grassroots organizations, and funding scholarships at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Black philanthropists are leading the way.
7. Tap into proven methods
Donor advised funds (DAF) were a bright spot in 2020 philanthropy. Over the last 10 years, DAF giving has significantly increased. For the donor, the money is already spent. Make your ask powerful and urgent. Include language about DAF giving in every appeal. A recent study found that nonprofit organizations that explicitly solicited DAF gifts received DAF gifts at a higher rate (87 percent) than nonprofits that did not solicit them.
8. Giving is beautiful
It has long been known that giving can have positive effects on the person who is giving, such as an increase in happiness, confidence, and even physical health. But research from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy has found there may be another potential implication of giving: physical attractiveness. The study found that more attractive people are more likely to be givers, and givers are rated as more attractive. “Our findings suggest that beauty products and procedures may not be the only way to enhance an individual’s attractiveness,” co-author Sara Konrath said. “Perhaps being generous could be the next beauty trend.”
The pandemic has changed many things. One thing it hasn’t: the fact that your cause is still worthy. Your work is still impactful. Those you serve are still in need.
As fundraisers, it’s our greatest gift. Bill Stanczykiewicz said it best: “There is no playbook for this pandemic. It gives nonprofits the opportunity and challenge to use their knowledge and expertise to craft their own playbook.”
Let’s make 2021 our best year yet!
Kristi Howard Shultz is a consultant that leads with head and heart. With 20+ years of experience working for nonprofits including nationally-known, time-tested institutions like The Boy Scouts of America, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Boys & Girls Clubs, she has worked in nearly every capacity of fundraising throughout her career. Kristi is a natural relationship builder who loves to put plans into action. Championing “firsts” for organizations is her specialty.