Nonprofit organizations have always had to work hard to fulfill their missions. A host of variable circumstances can rock even the strongest nonprofit organization. To be sustainable, nonprofit leaders have to be ready for anything. Your nonprofit board has had a tall order in front of it as you’ve faced multiple circumstances in 2020 that surely tested your leadership skills. Unfortunately, you’re bound to face much the same moving into the first half of 2021, and it will almost certainly affect charitable giving.
Even as we acknowledge facing some of the greatest challenges within most of our lifetimes, if there’s one word that characterizes nonprofit leadership, it’s resilience.
The question your nonprofit leaders have to answer during these challenging times is, “How can you take advantage of charitable giving trends to sustain your nonprofit until the members of society are in a better place to make larger donations?” To keep your nonprofit organization sustainable in 2021, the answer lies in taking stock of the current economic and societal climates and changing your messages in your fundraising campaigns to make them more relevant.
Acknowledging Crises in 2020 that Led to Economic Uncertainty
We’ve had more major crises in 2020 than most people could have ever imagined. There’s no point in skirting around it or trying to sugarcoat it. The reality is that COVID-19 has affected everyone in significant ways.
While COVID-19 has been the overarching crisis, your regular donors may have also faced stress or tragedy because of one or more of the following crises that occurred in 2020:
- Out-of-control wildfires
- Multiple hurricanes
- Political unrest
- Social unrest
Corporations that have supported you in the past have had to shift their priorities to sustainability, stepping up sanitation measures, and making a massive and abrupt move toward a remote workforce.
The global pandemic that we all live in is wearing people down. The stress and anxiety that people feel due to job loss or uncertainty, homelessness, and isolation are starting to have an impact on the mental health of people living in our societies.
Take a look at these statistics from a KFF Tracking Poll, conducted in July 2020, that show just how great a toll the pandemic and other crises are impacting mental health:
- 53% of U.S. adults indicated their mental health has been negatively impacted because of stress and worry over the coronavirus. (up from 32% in March 2020).
- 36% of adults reported having difficulty sleeping.
- 32% of adults reported experiencing a change in their eating habits.
- 12% of adults reported an increase in alcohol consumption or substance use.
- 12% of adults reported having worsening chronic conditions because of stress and worry over the coronavirus.
These statistics are glaring as you consider how to position your message about charitable giving. No one is unaffected. Anytime you communicate a message, it’s important to know your audience, and that’s especially important than right now.
How to Keep Charitable Giving Flowing Through Challenging Times
Regardless of whatever is going on in the world, it’s vital for nonprofit work to continue. How do you keep charitable giving flowing even through the most challenging times?
In the past, it was easy enough to craft your messages around how successful your nonprofit has been by focusing on the good work that it does every day. While that’s still highly important, it’s not necessarily a message that will read well to donors and philanthropists during this time. For that reason, it’s time for your nonprofit board to revisit the strategies for building donor loyalty.
When times are uncertain, as they are now, it’s best to focus on building strong relationships with philanthropists and donors, whether they regularly contribute a little or a lot. They’re more likely to respond to communications that are relevant and personalized.
As you consider relevancy, it helps to point out in your communications that your organization shares the same values as they do. At the same time, you’ll need to recognize that nonprofits, corporations, and families are all struggling because of the issues we’re facing.
Because funds are stretched tight for almost everyone, philanthropists and donors aren’t as likely to respond to mass mailings where you’ve plugged their name into a string of email blasts in your marketing campaign. Make an effort to get to know your donors and get in touch with what makes them feel compassion for your nonprofit organization.
To keep things simple, you might consider this 6-step strategy:
- Acknowledge and describe the crises your community and our nation are facing.
- Tell the story of how your nonprofit assists members of your community during this unprecedented time.
- Explain how their financial gift or their gift of time can make a major difference.
- List a few suggestions for charitable giving in appropriate amounts.
- Thank them for being willing to help you help your community.
- End your communication with a sentiment of hope and optimism.
This type of approach engages proactive donors because it identifies the current need and shifts the focus from the past to the present.
Now that you have a better idea of how to craft a message that gets results, consider whether you’re reaching donors on the right communication channel and at the right timing.
You’ll likely get the best results when you focus on online giving. The risk of exposure to COVID-19 is forcing people to stay home more. As a result, they’re doing more business online than ever. Online giving has been growing year over year. The world over, 54% of donors prefer to give donations online using a credit or debit card.
When times are tight or uncertain, even regular donors find it difficult to dig deep into their pockets. One way that you can overcome this challenge is to offer the option of monthly giving.
- The average monthly gift driven by email is $18 ($216 annually).
- The average monthly gift driven by online campaigns is $25 ($300 annually).
Compare these statistics with one-time gift amounts:
- The average one-time gift driven by email is $76.
- The average one-time gift driven by online campaigns is $113. (NonPorfitPRO)
Just by requesting regular monthly gifts, your nonprofit could fundraise 3 times more in donations!
At BoardEffect, we recognize how difficult it is for boards to lead their nonprofit organizations when it’s not safe to meet in person. A board management portal is your best resource for communicating and collaborating remotely about how to keep up with charitable giving trends.
The approach of a new year is always a good time to review your fundraising goals and strategies. While we can’t predict the future, at some point, the crises we’re facing will surely pass. By keeping in the loop with current charitable giving trends, and relying on your BoardEffect board portal for support, your nonprofit organization will continue to make a difference now and in the coming year.