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7 imperatives for Fundraising Success in 2021

2021 is well underway – how is your plan coming together as we find ourselves in Q2? Its not too late to make a change and refocus on things that will maximize your impact.

Coming out of our donors’ attitudes series, which helped us understand what donors are thinking, we identified the 7 imperatives that can help to tap into what donors are looking for while helping you to raise more money for your cause.

  1. Uplifted retention
    • With many organizations having experienced an influx of donors in 2020(and even more so if you didn’t see more donors attracted to your organization), retaining donors in 2021 will be key to short and long-term success. Donors indicated they were planning to give again this year but you will still need to engage them. Questions to ask yourself include: What are our retention rates and how can we improve them by delivering a better experience, where are the opportunities for monthly conversion, how are my new donors being treated and inspired to give again, and what moments in the donor journeys are ripe for increasing average gift?
  2. Digital acquisition
    • We’ve been in front of screens full time for more than a year now and so have our donors. How are you leveraging that as an opportunity? With offline acquisition still alive but declining, it’s key to keep an eye on the cost to acquire online and offline and then invest where the metrics are pointing. All age groups are trended toward giving online, so making sure you stand out in the cacophony of messages is key.
  3. Digital communications
    • Are you talking to your donors or at your donors? In a world where “e-blasts” are still the norm, it’s no wonder donors are unsubscribing from your newsletter and not following you on social media. Pushing out content because it’s generated is not putting the needs of the organization, donor, or beneficiary at the centre – it’s checking a box. Ensuring that the communications are timely, relevant to the donor and informative is what will keep them coming back for more.
  4. Data collection and segmentation
    • With IOS14 we are facing a significant shift in our ability to capture and utilize data as an industry. Ways we have collected first-party data in the past will no longer be possible and it will be even more important to capture (and keep clean) information on who your donors and prospects are so you can speak to them in a multi-channel way. This undertaking will not be an easy undertaking but its one that will be a dividing line in those charities who maintain their success and those who are challenged to do so.
  5. Legacy integration
    • With Leave a Legacy month coming up in May this is top of mind for us and hopefully you as well. In our donor research, we learned that Legacy prospects are younger than you think and that the pandemic has more and more people considering making a Will. Ensuring that your website has more than a static page of ways to give and a generic Donations@charity dot com email address will be the source of success for this type of giving. Start with a conversation – a Will is one of the most personal and private things people will ever do – show donors that want to be part of that process in more than a transactional way.
  6. Donor journey
    • What came out loud and clear in each of the previous 4 Waves of the Donor Attitudes surveys was that donors were cautious about charities and wanted more transparency to grow that trust. How are you demonstrating that in the journey your donor segments are on? Further, it is often forgotten that these journeys should be measured, reviewed and updated regularly based on those metrics. Consider setting aside a Friday afternoon once a month to review one of your key segment journeys – testing and optimizing will lead to incremental change and incremental change can have a big impact.
  7. Peer to peer
    • With fewer (or none – depending on where you are), events in person for another year we are seeing an increase peer to peer giving and the donors are telling us that it’s a way that they learn about charities to give to. Ensuring that your organization is one of the ones that is being recommended can help to significantly increase the ROI on the event. Giving donors something that is engaging and something they enjoy means they are likely to share that with others – word of mouth can go a long way to stretching a tight budget.

The 7 imperatives are a lot to think about and consider so if we had to distill it down to the core, here are our top three recommendations to improve your program this year:

  1. Compelling proposition, product offer and content
    • In each one of these cases what matters is the offer and the content – what keeps you coming back to a TV show you love, or Instagram account you follow – its relevant and interesting content and an inspiring offer. While we love our causes, we are competing with so many other things out there. Make it relevant, interesting and it never hurts to have a little entertainment value!
  2. The experience
    • Donors and non-donors alike have had their expectations raised over the years when it comes to interactions with charities and other organizations – the pandemic has only sped that up. Providing the right experience doesn’t mean its flashy or complicated – it means listening to what your donors want and ensuring that you are creating content that your audiences want (not just what you want). From your donation form, to how you keep their data to the one-to-one engagement opportunities – are you providing what your donors really want?
  3. System infrastructure and integration
    • The pandemic has brought to light just how much charities are struggling with their system infrastructure. There are degrees of this struggle depending on skills set, human resources and investment level but we have yet to come across an organization who has it 100% right. Considering where the short-term wins can be achieved while planning the bigger, long-term fixes will be key to staying relevant in this fast-paced environment.

Can’t decide where you should start? Need more information? Reach out so we can have a conversation –