The years 2020 and 2021 have been a testament to the resilience of the nonprofit and charity sector: they successfully navigated the challenges posed by COVID-19, adopted imaginative solutions, and moved operations to the digital realm to continue daily workings.
As this year draws to a close, there are many reasons to feel optimistic. The successful implementation of worldwide vaccine programs makes it unlikely that cases and hospitalizations will reach peak pandemic levels. The days of consecutive lockdowns are over and it is safe to say that the worst of the pandemic is finally behind us.
It is a time to prioritize the future and switch gears to start thinking about your long-term strategy. We believe in 2022, charities will return to strategic thinking, make virtual fundraisers a part of their core strategy, prioritize donor retention and community building, and use the knowledge they’ve acquired over the last two years to embrace agility.
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5 key fundraising trends that are here to stay
1. Virtual fundraising will become the norm
Arguably, the biggest impact of the pandemic was nonprofits’ swift pivot from in-person to virtual fundraisers. Virtual events aren’t new, but the pandemic showed their value, and in essence, made them a mandatory part of fundraising.
Here are some key benefits of virtual fundraisers:
- They break geographical limits and allow charities to engage new donors and sponsors.
- They increase ease of access and reach.
- Help reduce costs (associated with travel, hotel bookings, venue, etc.).
Most of the creative virtual fundraisers, online marathons, and charity raffles that came to the fore during the last two years were born of the sector’s resilience in the face of an altered world while finding ways to raise funds.
2. Donor retention will be more important than acquisition
For the longest time, charities and nonprofits believed that successful fundraising meant they had to increase the number of people participating in their programs. That led to a relentless hustle to add new people to their donor base to raise more money.
All of this changed in 2020. Nonprofits and charities switched their focus from recruiting new donors to making sure existing supporters were fully engaged and motivated to give.
This resulted in conscious supporters who came through in big ways by raising much more and doing so more frequently. And with the lowered costs of online fundraising, most charities were happy with the net results.
As we move towards 2022, charities and nonprofits are focused on finding ways to keep their loyal supporters and donors engaged, while utilizing strategies to re-engage and motivate donors who stepped away during the pandemic.
3. Recurring giving will gain importance
Nonprofits and charities are fast realizing the importance of starting and growing recurring giving programs. This is an area that will see massive growth during 2022. Many charities and nonprofits are looking at their traditional online fundraising efforts as top-of-the-funnel activities to retain donors and encourage recurring giving.
Having a recurring giving campaign in place improves the experience for both the charity and the donor. The former needs to work (and show results) to ensure donors give regularly, whereby donors can directly see the impact of their giving. This in turn helps a nonprofit or charity create a predictable stream of income that powers them through uncertain times and sets them up for success. In fact, recurring donations who give monthly donate 440 percent more to a charity over their lifetime compared to one-time donors.
There are several interesting ways to raise funds online and keep supporters engaged to give regularly. One of these is by organizing a 50/50 online raffle which gamifies the entire process. As the name suggests, the main prize or ‘pot’— funded via ticket sales—is split 50/50 between the charity and the winner. For maximum impact, this method of fundraising should be repeated every month to help the campaign build momentum (and increase the size of the pot).
4. Social media will be key for outreach
Social media has gained massive importance post-pandemic and is a valuable outreach tool for charities and nonprofits. It’s a time where organizations need to give special attention to social promotions, if they haven’t already, and make it part of their long-term outreach plan.
It might be too obvious, but it still warrants an emphatic mention. Social media dominates marketing activity. And in 2022, nonprofits and charities will have to meet supporters on their own turf. To win this game, it’s important to have a social media strategy in place, improve social media output, and really build a connection with your target audience.
Instead of adopting a blanket model, it is best to prioritize platforms that match your needs. Create content with a focus on personalization and speak directly to demographics most likely to find value in your organization.
5. Agility will be resourceful
Organizations that are able to sustain themselves through the toughest of times in any given industry are those that are agile or quick to adapt to the changing circumstances. Charities and nonprofits are no different. Those that can assess new trends and implement them will be able to stay a step ahead and be more stable.
2020 showed us how unpredictable life can be. Becoming more flexible is a great strategy for the long run. But the question is, how can you reach your goals in the face of rapid or unprecedented change?
Agility is all about constantly evaluating what is working and what’s not, and putting the right processes in place. The best way to go about this, and avoid pitfalls, is to have more frequent checkpoints as you work towards achieving your five or 10-year plan. This also means not shying away from changing course or adjusting sail when needed.
A good way to start is to look back at 2021 and see what worked and what failed. What lacked structure, where a more nimble approach helped, etc. Don’t hesitate to completely change directions if what you’re doing right now isn’t working or moving your organization up the right path.
An important lesson from the past year, in our opinion, is that the future is what we make it. The last two years were challenging but the insights acquired can help the nonprofit and charity sector scale new heights in the months and years to come.