By Angela E. White, CFRE, Senior Consultant and CEO, Johnson, Grossnickle and Associates
Since March 2020, our motto at JGA has been “generosity is not cancelled.” So many things in our lives have been cancelled due to the pandemic, but generosity is not one of them. Donors have not stopped sharing their gifts of time, talent, and treasure. We have seen this generosity in support of campaigns, days of giving, and ongoing operations, as well as a continued commitment to volunteerism – although the format has changed in a virtual world.
What does this mean for 2021? As you look toward continuing to raise philanthropic support for your mission in 2021, what will you do to set the stage for generosity to continue?
A recent blog posted by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy offers 10 Tips for Fundraisers in 2021. Among these tips are finding new ways to collaborate, creating community virtually, engaging all of your donors, and – my personal favorite – embracing optimism. They also stress the importance of continuing to fundraise. As stated in the article, “your cause is still worthy. Your work is still impactful. Those you serve are still in need.”
At JGA, we would add the following steps as key ways to fast track your goals in 2021 and spur generosity for your organization:
- Create short-term plans for long-term impact. Are your institutional strategies and development initiatives tailored to your changing environment? Have you revised your current strategic plan in light of lessons learned from the pandemic? Take time now to ensure the plans that guide your organization and your development operation are relevant in this new environment and support your strategic plan.
- Focus on your best prospects and engage new donors. Have you recalibrated your donor portfolios for 2021? Are you successfully engaging new prospects in a virtual and/or hybrid world? Optimize your portfolios so your team is focused on the right prospects to raise more money for your mission. Many organizations will also need to create a plan to on-board new development officers and/or transition portfolios as a result of staffing changes. Nonprofits that acquired new donors from special pandemic fundraising initiatives in 2020 need to create plans to steward these relationships and retain their ongoing support in the future.
- Gather strategic intelligence to inform decision making. Are you contemplating the creation of a new service, communications plan, or fundraising methodology this year? You should first engage your constituents and gather the critical information needed prior to making these decisions and launching a new venture. Engage your current and prospective constituency groups in a multi-pronged information-gathering process. Data you receive during this crucial input stage can inform your decision making and avoid costly missteps.
- Focus on streamlining your donor data. Are your staff resources aligned to engage your best prospects early in the process? Streamlined prospect data can help you better segment your donor base and focus your efforts on those prospects most likely to make a gift in the short term. When you combine data based both on capacity and engagement using tools like Acuity® you get actionable intelligence that identifies your best prospects quickly.
JGA is here to help you assess your readiness in one or more of these areas and assist you in fast tracking your goals for 2021. We’ve even put together special service packages that can be implemented quickly and with a high return on investment to help.
Here’s to a great year!