By Jan Brogdon and Robyn Furness-Fallin


If 2020 taught us anything, it was to do MORE with LESS! Given those constraints, how do we help our nonprofit thrive when our fundraising plans call for increased charitable contributions AND staying connected with donors AND educating prospects AND writing proposals that clearly articulate need and demonstrate impact AND keep (likely smaller) staff teams motivated and hopeful?

It’s a lot to take on, but recent data and trends show that there may be opportunities in this changing landscape… if we’re willing to adapt our methods.

36% increase in online giving year-over-year from April to June 2020 compared to same period last year (Blackbaud Institute Index)

Take a hard look at your online presence. How can you update your webpage, facebook and other social media channels to take advantage of the opportunities to communicate program impact and evolving needs with a sense of urgency that keeps donors engaged throughout the year? Make technology your friend; use it to reach more people faster.


43% of donors plan to continue their financial support with charities they are CURRENTLY involved with (Fidelity)

Make LOYALTY your focus for the new year. Now is not the time for an all-out push to acquire new donors. Stay connected to those who have already expressed interest in your work — especially those who gave to your organization in the midst of 2020’s challenges. Getting them to give again early in 2021 and again before the year is over will help solidify them as a LOYAL donor moving forward.

Again, consider the use of technology. Forward an email from your organization to the donor directly to make sure they see it and add a personal note. It takes less staff resource than a face-to-face meeting – if face-to-face is even an option. On that note, don't rule out using Zoom and other virtual connection tools for personal visits. While it’s not the same, it can still a good visit if you are prepared and share some data and photos on the screen during the visit.


25% of donors plan to increase their gifts with an additional 54% maintaining this year’s gift levels (Blackbaud)

People today are seeking ways to help and giving feels like something many can do that is making an impact, even when the gifts are smaller. And, if some of your regular donors are not able to make a gift, make sure you aren’t moving them off of the communication lists. Remember the 2008 recession—organizations that stayed close when times were tough were in a much better spot when things improved. Don’t give up on them!


25% of Americans say they will give to different organizations that are responding to COVID-19.

Talk about how the crisis has impacted your work. As you evolve in the services you offer (or how you offer them), keep your donor base aware. While they may give to a new organization (maybe one that addresses food insecurity, for example), you will still want them to see what you do in a new light and within the context of your current circumstance.


GenZ and Millenials reported coronavirus support as their top charitable cause in June 2020.

And, here they are! Most development teams have talked for years about how to access this giving constituency and urgent need has brought them into charitable giving in a more focused manner. Again, make sure your social media and online presence is reaching this group. Ask for some ambassadors from your organization’s existing relationships within these age cohorts to push out content to their networks elevating the reach beyond what you can deliver with your organizations’ direct resources.


Current donor behavior reflects a major shift in the willingness of donors to engage with organizations differently than they have in the past. The escalation of online and virtual engagement opens new doors to your planning for and the implementation of new fundraising tactics in the coming year. In other words, finding ways to do more, with less.


A Note for YMCAs

Our own virtual platform: the 2021 Virtual Annual Giving Academy is designed to help YMCAs do more with less. We will take you through a 12-month engagement plan to support direct activities and tactics for reaching your annual giving goals. Five modules, each highlighting a key signature activity, as well as five sessions of Academy LIVE, panel interview discussions on fundraising trends and opportunities, are available for key leaders with fundraising responsibility within each Association. Learn more about the Virtual Annual Giving Academy or join us during one of our free Q&A sessions:

January 8, 2021    10am Central    Register Here

January 12, 2021   10am Central    Register Here

January 14, 2021   2pm Central     Register Here

January 20, 2021  3pm Central     Register Here

January 22, 2021  11am Central     Register Here

Photo by Scott Webb on Unsplash

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