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Four Tips for Nonprofit Resiliency in 2021

Pull up a chair. Grab your cup of coffee or tea. Let’s exhale and debrief about the year.

2020 was…. something.

I see what you’ve been through and how you’ve worked to pivot. I know that you burned the candle at both ends applying for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), shifting programs to a virtual format, and addressing new needs in the community. (Not to mention trying to take care of yourself and your family during a worldwide pandemic!) Many of you are exhausted as you limp over the 2020 finish line and wonder if you have what it takes to keep going in the nonprofit sector.


I also see that you have innovated in ways that none of us had ever dreamed of. You met the deepest needs of the community during one of the hardest years we’re likely to experience in our lifetimes. You engaged your donors and they demonstrated their belief in your mission by continuing to give even if they felt their resources were limited. You found ways to advance the greater good when we needed it most. You were resilient.

Thank you.

Let me say it again, because you don’t hear it enough…. THANK YOU!

In 2021, that resiliency will continue to serve you and your organization well.

How do you ensure your nonprofit remains agile and resilient? In a recent guest blog post for the Association of Consultants to Nonprofits, we suggested that going back to basics and focusing on fundraising fundamentals is the most effective and immediate action an organization can take right now. Building on that sentiment, here are some quick tips for fund development resiliency in 2021:

  1. Focus on relationship development. The majority of donations come from just 20% of donors. What can you do to strengthen your relationships with your top donors?

  2. Make the donor the hero! Donor-centric communications puts the donor at the center of the impact stories, creating an opportunity for the donors to see themselves as part of the organization’s efforts. Create a new donor-centric quarterly newsletter (or e-blast) and an annual impact report (or formal annual report). Incorporate donor-centric messaging in social media strategy. These communication tools will increase the level of connection that the donor feels to the cause. How can you infuse donor-centric messages into all of your communications?

  3. Consider a branded monthly giving program. Build a reliable, predictable revenue stream and create enthusiastic and committed donors with a branded monthly giving program. Recurring donors are cheaper to retain and have greater lifetime donations than other donors. If you already have a monthly giving program, what can you do to engage with those members in 2021? If not, what steps do you need to take to create one?

  4. Virtual events are here to stay. Virtual events are expected to remain popular even after a successful vaccine. The industry has found that they have higher ROIs and are much more accessible, expanding the target audience dramatically. What lessons have you learned from your 2020 virtual events that you can apply to your 2021 calendar? Evaluate success of virtual events and plan your 2021 calendar accordingly, making sure to emphasize relationship-building opportunities.

We hope these ideas help you to flesh out your plan for 2021 and remain nimble for what may lie ahead. If there's one thing we've learned this year, it's that things can change on a dime! The sector rose up to meet the challenge this year and we have no doubt that next year will be no different.

We’re honored to do this important work with you!


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