5 Strategies to Consider as You Plan for 2021

To say that this year has been a doozy is an understatement. It has challenged nearly every single person on the planet personally and professionally.

For those of us in the nonprofit world, the pandemic created fundraising challenges that have forced us to reimagine how to fundraise, as well as how to cultivate and solicit donors. Moving into 2021, pivoting will continue to be important as we adjust to operating in the ‘new normal.’ As you start to plan your approach, here are five strategies to consider implementing for 2021.

1. Reallocate event resources to building a robust major gift program. Now is the time to transition away from transactional fundraising, like events, to fundraising that is built on deep, meaningful, two-way relationships.

  • Spend time getting to know your donors. Why do they support your cause and what impact they are hoping to make?
  • Once you understand their goals, develop more personalized solicitations that help your donor achieve their philanthropic intent while also garnering more support for your organization.

2. Launch a monthly giving program. Even in difficult financial times, a monthly giving program is a way for donors to continue their support without breaking the bank. A monthly giving program provides:

  • An easy way for your donors to feel connected and supportive of your cause.
  • A reliable source of financial support for your nonprofit, which can help with your planning and budgeting.
  • A small administrative commitment, following set-up, so more of the donation is used to support programs.

You can find more detail about how to increase the promotion of your existing monthly giving program or launch a new program here.

3. Develop a social media ambassador program. The pandemic has caused social media usage to increase as more people seek to stay connected while physically distanced. Developing a dedicated social media ambassador program can help keep donors and supporters who are active on social media more engaged and aware of your mission.

  • This can be a great way to engage supporters who have experience in this area and are passionate about your organization’s work.
  • Identify the platform(s) you’d like to focus on and establish guidelines for content and an approval process.
  • Engage 5-6 social media-savvy volunteers to train on key messaging, the process and any brand do’s and don’ts (specific language to use/avoid, etc).
  • Begin with a small experiment to gauge how your plan is working. Need help with your approach? Check out this free training: 3 Essential “Do This, Not That” Social Media Strategies for Nonprofits at Year-End (And Beyond).

4. Re-imagine how you engage corporate donors. With no events, traditional sponsorship benefits don’t make sense. Companies aren’t looking for event signage, tickets, or opportunities to speak. Instead you’ll want to:

  • Get creative, and more importantly, personalized with how you work with your organization’s corporate donors to develop corporate engagement opportunities that aren’t centered on events.
  • Find out what ROI they want, i.e. connection with your other supporters, access to your clients, volunteer opportunities for staff, ways to market their corporate social responsibility initiatives to various audiences.
  • Consider a social media initiative, exclusive sponsorship of a virtual event, a matching gift for an appeal, ways to engage their staff in volunteer initiatives, or marketing opportunities and be clear in communicating outcomes.

5. Remain flexible. If this year has shown us anything, it’s that we need to be able to pivot at a moment’s notice. Noting areas where your organization can be nimble in the face of change will be important. Review what worked well and what didn’t work well at the beginning of this ever-changing landscape. Consider reviewing the following areas with a lens of flexibility:

  • Budgeting - With fundraising up in the air and the launch of unproven campaigns, consider budgeting incrementally, beginning with Q1 and assessing as more data becomes available.
  • Fundraising - Be open to curtail a fundraising effort if it is proving to be unsuccessful or unsustainable. Just because you put effort in up front doesn’t mean you need to stick with it, especially if the activity isn’t profitable.
  • Programming - What has worked for those you serve during this time? Focus your efforts on areas that have been successful and assess those that are struggling.
  • Staffing - Have you permanently set up a process or infrastructure for remote work yet? Now is the time to have a plan for all internal scenarios so staff can know what you expect if changes occur overnight.

Need help with implementing any of these strategies? Contact Detroit Philanthropy to learn more about how to increase your fundraising capacity in this challenging landscape.

About Rachel M. Decker

Having spent nearly 20 years in the nonprofit sector as an effective and strategic fundraising and foundation executive, Detroit Philanthropy Founder and President, Rachel Decker is passionate about helping others, making meaningful connections, solving problems and, most importantly, creating impact in our community. With the founding of Detroit Philanthropy, she turned that passion into a commitment to champion philanthropy throughout metro Detroit as a philanthropic advisor, fundraising consultant and speaker.


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