It’s time to write the next chapter in nonprofit fundraising. How do you think COVID-19 will permanently change fundraising? Here are 6 things I think will change.
Businesses are starting to reopen. The economy will restart. The world will be different. The International Monetary Fund is projecting that the economic downturn in the coming year will be unlike anything we’ve seen.It's time to write the next chapter. How do you think COVID-19 will permanently change fundraising? Here are 6 things I think will change. #fundraising #nonprofit #strategy Click To Tweet
The recovery will not only be slow, we will experience it differently than past recessions. While the Great Recession started in the financial sector and spread to other sectors, the current reality is that multiple sectors are falling simultaneously, and many will never return to status quo.
Organizations that plan now and are ready to hit the ground running will be the most successful navigating the new unknown. What should you be thinking about as you plan to navigate the new reality?
At one time, the typewriter was the most innovate advance in news rooms. Now, the typewriter is a relic and the entire world is the newsroom.
A plan is better than no plan; but, planning is changing
A plan creates the framework to evaluate progress and make course corrections. It keeps your collective eyes on the horizon as your team navigates forward.
In a rapidly changing new reality, a team needs to be nimble in their planning. Successful plans will function more like a feedback loop than a static road map.
Organizations that maintain fluid strategic plans that inform the fundraising plan will emerge the winners. The yearly weekend retreat and annual plan that collects dust on a shelf are dead (and good riddance).
We believe constant iteration will become the new norm. Fundraising professionals who can move fluidly between the big picture and the daily grind will be in high demand.
Innovate or die
We will lose some organizations who are no longer relevant, were not prepared for, or couldn’t weather the downturn. Some, we will mourn greatly. Others, not so much.
The most successful organizations will take the opportunity to evaluate their dual bottom line: their mission impact and the profitability of their programs. Balancing these needs will become more important going forward. Some organizations will completely reinvent themselves while others will find a rebirth in merger.
Those that merge successfully will start discussions early, while they still have assets to bring to the table. Everyone who thrives will have a renewed clarity of mission with a business plan that supports it.
The strongest organizations will continue to have a healthy mix of revenue: earned, public, and philanthropic.
Successful fundraisers will solve problems for their donors
Your donors who have been giving from assets are seeing a stark contraction in those assets and will also see a slow recovery.
Donors who have been giving from income may have lost their income or are acting from a feeling of scarcity. Donor advised funds (DAFs) solve these problems. Once a DAF has been funded, the donor cannot withdraw funds to use for a non-charitable purpose. It is like a envelope of money, tucked away, waiting to be allocated.
It will become essential to know where the DAF opportunities lie. Passively processing DAF gifts will be a thing of the past: successful fundraisers will promote DAF giving and institute a process to ask all donors if they have a DAF in place.
Promoting the charitable IRA rollover, above-the-line charitable donation, bequests, and gifts of appreciated stock will also solve problems for donors who are not be in a position to write a check to their favorite cause.
Events have been permanently disrupted
Many organizations are unrealistic about a rapid return to fundraising events.
It won’t be truly safe to gather until a vaccine is available and that could still be years away. The CDC is predicting that COVID-19 could return annually, just as the flu does, and more deadly. Given the age of most donors, relative to the general population, they will continue to avoid exposure. Smaller, more casual, stewardship affairs will likely become more popular.
Savvy development professionals will plan for all contingencies and move away from revenue sources dependent on gatherings.
Someday, we’ll marvel at how we spent huge sums to throw fantastic galas and were thrilled when our signature events raised $3 for every $2 we spent to put them on. Lavish events will go out of style as we embrace austerity in a painfully contracted economy.
Leadership and expertise will rise to the top
The pandemic is a monster and an equalizer. From celebrities to world leaders, to royalty, no amount of power can keep anyone safe. Meanwhile, leadership lessons have been on display daily: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Every day we are witnessing the slow death of leadership based on control, hierarchy and insular power. That model is failing.
When we begin to doubt what we are told, while others rise up daily to fill a leadership vacuum, the “efficiency of hierarchy” loses its appeal. Organizations that seize the opportunity to lead – and organize others in their mission areas – will be rewarded.
Authenticity will rule the day
The pandemic has been traumatic, and trauma has a way of cutting through the crap to expose what is real.
Legitimacy will be measured in the congruence between values and actions. Influential organizations will walk their talk; encouraging their employees, donors, and volunteers to bring their whole, true selves. The annual fund isn’t dead, but you may find yours on life support if you aren’t offering an authentic reason to heed the call.
Organizations that succeed will define hope by offering a bold and unifying vision. They will create hope in an unprecedented environment of challenge and change but they will not do it in a silo. They will equip their people to become change agents and multiply their message of hope.
I am a trusted nonprofit consultant with 21 years of experience serving mission-driven institutions. At Rose City Philanthropy we specialize in strategic, people-centered fundraising solutions. We love walking teams through feasibility studies, strategic planning, and capital campaign development. We bring a data-informed approach that is rooted in best practice and honors the unique culture and values of the organizations with whom we work.