Nonprofits around the country can only speculate on how the COVID-19 pandemic, social unrest, and stock market volatility will impact philanthropy in 2020. Unfortunately, current data only paints the full picture on 2019. According to Giving USA, philanthropic giving rose 2.4 percent to $449.6 billion, falling just shy of the 2017 record of $451 billion. Despite this strong activity in giving, the overall percentage of those who give fell below the annual 2.8 percent growth mark the nonprofit sector had seen since 1979.
But what does all of this data tell us?
If we bring together the many pieces of the puzzle, there is still ample opportunity for giving -- especially individual giving. At the same time, the market was already changing at the end of 2019. It seems that COVID-19 is the catalyst of acceleration, rather than a single issue for the industry. It’s clear that nonprofit organizations need to adjust fundraising strategies not on what happened last year, but what’s to come to the philanthropic sector for years to come.
Solutions For Today’s Problems
The current economic struggles tell us that our typical major donors may consider shortening the list of organizations they give to and have trouble honoring pledges. When these gaps in revenue from donations arise (if they haven’t yet), simply asking other major donors to make up for the difference is no longer a feasible strategy. The organizations that find ways to win in today’s economy will be those who can uplevel new donors into major donor portfolios and inspire giving at scale from those deeper in the giving pyramid.
While this may seem like a tall order -- especially as layoffs, furloughs, and budget cuts are limiting the capacity of fundraising shops -- organizations are tapping into artificial intelligence as the path forward. In fact, some organizations, like The Shakespeare Theatre Company are using AI to save the future of their organizations.
While today’s data tells us that there are a lot of problems, conversations should not end there. After all, this is 2020 and we have solutions that simply did not exist just a year or two ago. There are ways to come out of these economic times as winners -- and it’s not by embracing the status quo.
If you’d like to learn more about how artificial intelligence can empower your fundraising staff to act as 2-3x its size, personally reach new donors, and inspire giving at scale, talk to Gravyty.