The impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the nonprofit sector can’t be overstated, and the lesson was clear — even the most rigorous planning can’t protect us from the need to remain flexible and responsive to unprecedented events.
Much of the nonprofit sector demonstrated great resilience in continuing and even expanding operations and fundraising in 2020. Many of these lessons learned on the fly will become the emerging trends that will make 2021 another unique year.
Here are the top three trends we see impacting nonprofit fundraising events in 2021:
1. Virtual events are here to stay.
Without a doubt, the biggest impact of the coronavirus pandemic on nonprofits was the cancelation of live, in-person fundraising events. That’s why we saw a massive rise in the number of virtual events.
Most of these events were born out of resiliency and the spirit of innovation. Like everybody else, nonprofit organizations were faced with unprecedented times and quickly evolved to continue to raise much-needed funds.
Bearing in mind that most live events are planned up to a year in advance, this is a tremendous thing! And this is why we consider virtual fundraising events the no.1 trend 2021.
Some benefits include engaging new attendees, sponsors and speakers from all over the world; lowering the barrier for participants to enter; reducing some of the major event costs and an opportunity to easily steward fundraisers, attendees and donors to future engagements.
2. Recurring giving plans are key.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, nonprofits realize the benefits of building an online recurring giving program.
Traditional online fundraising efforts can drive recurring donors, while improving the giving experience for such donors to help your nonrpfoit gain their support every month. This is a win-win situation where donors feel more included and tapped into the organization’s impact, while the organization is creating a more predictable revenue stream.
Recurring donors are even more likely to make an additional gift within the first year of their initial donation. So, this is undoubtedly one of the most impactful trends for the upcoming year.
3. Nonprofit and for-profit bonds will get stronger.
We’ve learned in 2020 that when we work together, we are so much stronger. We could see this in the new partnerships formed between for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations during the ongoing pandemic.
We’ve seen the lines blurred between these two sectors, and we expect this to continue: On one side, nonprofits are borrowing the for-profit model of operation, while for-profit gains the approval of their buyers and employees for having a more purpose-centric model. The result is more meaningful collaborations across the sectors and the emergence of conscious capitalism!
2020 has been challenging for everyone, including fundraisers and the nonprofit sector. But it’s also been a banner year for innovation and collaboration. As a well-informed and unified sector, we can all work hard and make 2021 our best year yet!
By Jackie Sue Griffin, MBA, MS