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What Does the Crystal Ball Predict for Nonprofits in 2021?

Posted: 1/6/2021

Click here to read on NonProfitPRO

by Duke Haddad

Happy New Year! The good news is 2020 is finally a chapter to remember in history. The challenging news is 2021 is here, and we must be prepared to address this year. Many of us are either beginning a new work year or continuing a fiscal year of work. The environment for giving at the end of 2020 seemed slightly different as many people stepped up to make either new or larger gifts than usual.

Since I work for a social service agency, it might be because donors have seen or heard of the fact that many people continue to suffer in some way because of the coronavirus. As we begin the new year, have you made predictions for the nonprofit sector?

The Association of Fundraising Professionals released survey results of 850 U.S. fundraisers in 2020. When asked about the possibility of fundraising success in 2021, close to 72% believe they will raise less money in 2021 than they do in a typical year. Fundraisers are increasing their reliance on virtual activities with 78% planning to focus on social media, online and virtual events and 75% planning to focus on email. Over 80% of these professionals plan to increase their donor retention and stewardship activities. Over 20% have furloughed staff and 18% have cut staff salaries.

Givergy noted that it has seen in-person fundraising events shrink by over 95% due to the impact of the coronavirus. Predictions for 2021 by Givergy include the return of in-person events, greater hybrid events that represent small in-person audiences and online audiences, continuing reliance on various types of virtual events and ongoing online fundraising campaigns, which will be the new norm for 2021. There is still uncertainty as to the extent of fundraising progress in the new calendar year.

Wild Apricot suggested the following nonprofit trends for 2021:

  1. How people give is changing. Consider asking for indirect and in-kind gifts.
  2. Monthly giving is on the up and up. Make that a focus for your organization in 2021.
  3. Giving days will keep getting more popular. Be prepared for this wave of giving.
  4. Get ready for Gen Z. Invest in reaching this population of new potential donors.
  5. Video trends will keep rising. Use video, such as YouTube, to lift the veil on your work.
  6. Time to get in on stories. Show your organization's human side.
  7. Digital is now first. Adopt digital experiences such as online fundraising tools.
  8. Virtual events are here to stay. Your audience is going to expect highly engaging experiences.
  9. Nonprofit and for-profit partnerships. 2021 will show a rise in these partnerships.
  10. Volunteering looks different. Virtual volunteering will be a permanent fixture for nonprofits.

Classy states that the social sector learned a valuable lesson in 2020, which is to be flexible and adapt to changing circumstances. Based upon a variety of factors, Classy picks for the upcoming year include the fact that virtual events are here to stay, so take advantage of this opportunity. Recurring giving will be more important than ever before so prepare for this important reality in 2021.

Nonprofit and for-profit connections will continue to get stronger as consumers demand the addition of more social purpose to their profit-centric model. You will need to meet your supporters where they reside online at such places as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and new platforms. It is imperative that your nonprofit remain nimble as it is a strategic imperative. You must double down on lessons learned from what transpired in 2020.

TechSoup recommends that nonprofit professionals continue to focus on donor cultivation and stewardship, adapt and improve your case for giving, embrace contact-free fundraising events, empower supporters to help you and get your digital house in order.

You need to show your supporters and possible supporters how your organization has weathered the storm and are focused to make positive strides in the new year. Do whatever you can to get your ratings high on GuideStar and Charity Navigator as donors study these publications prior to making major donation choices.

As we enter the new year the crystal ball, at times, will be hard to see. With new possible government policies, economic uncertainties, the timing of the total implementation of the COVID-19 vaccine, the aftermath of the chaos caused by the coronavirus and other factors, headwinds will exist before tailwinds arrive. Be prepared for any eventuality to the best of your ability. Be transparent to every constituency and, most of all, be optimistic! In many ways, view a paradigm shift as setting your organization on a new and improved path to long term success!

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