Adapt. Pivot. Innovate.
These are concepts that fundraising professionals have become accustomed to hearing the past year more so than ever.
CAF America’s most recent COVID-19 survey revealed to what extent charitable organizations have adjusted to changes forced upon them due to the pandemic. Overall, and unsurprisingly, 93% of the respondents said they’ve been negatively impacted. Yet, they also recognize that the pandemic has forced them to rethink their fundraising strategies as a whole and move beyond the old way of doing things.
As they say, necessity is the mother of invention. And our current climate has forced many leaders in the industry to take notice of the need for change and respond accordingly.
This is not a passing trend. As we keep our eyes on the horizon toward a post-COVID future, we must do so with an appreciation for what we have learned over the past year and continue to apply it in ways that will drive our organizations, causes, and philanthropic endeavors forward. Our moment to rebuild is here. But we must ensure we rebuild an even stronger foundation so that we can scale our future efforts even further.
The most recent CAF America’s COVID-19 survey offers a valuable perspective into how charitable organization leaders are preparing themselves and their teams now for success in a post-pandemic world.
Here are some key takeaways:
Continue to Prioritize Digital Innovation
We all know digital was a top priority in 2020. In fact, when asked about the innovations that they implemented in 2020, the top response (73.94%) of leaders was “adapting programming to the digital realm.” They also identified it as their most successful innovation, as 62.84% said they were successful in doing so.
Moving forward, leaders are recognizing that they cannot rest on their laurels with recent digital innovations, but instead, must continue to explore the digital realm further. In fact, many are realizing the myriad benefits of developing a digital fundraising strategy, including being able to personalize and also scale their fundraising efforts.
For the near future, the two top areas of improvement, according to survey responders, is seeking support in finding new ways to fundraise through digital technology (75.6%), and seeking advice on cultivating new and existing donors to diversify funding sources.
Communicate More Effectively
Even with successful digital implementations in place, organizations are aware that they cannot afford to fall behind when it comes to communicating their value. Especially as they face a growing need to fix a cracked donor pyramid and expand their donor pool.
Charitable organizations feel their top area of opportunity for building capacity in the future is using communication more effectively for fundraising and resource mobilization (71.05%). While not all communication is in digital form, the opportunity to scale efforts via these channels is greater, which is why organizations are continuing to explore their options.
Leaders are also recognizing that fundraising tools, such as ones that leverage artificial intelligence, actually humanize the fundraising experience further, as it allows fundraisers more time to communicate with donors and cultivate relationships in tandem with their machine teammates.
Prepare to Rethink Your Strategies
In many ways, fundraising was successful in 2020, but that does not mean strategies won’t need to evolve post-pandemic.
Key areas of improvement noted by respondents included: identifying new avenues for online fundraising, diversifying fundraising sources, and selecting superior fundraising strategies.
While the majority of organizations who were “unable to dedicate resources to developing and implementing new fundraising initiatives” were made up of 20 employees or fewer, the time is now to rethink existing strategies and team structures in order to impact our society for the better in the future.