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A Need for Stability and Leadership in our sector? Fundraisers Talk About Raising Money in 2021

At Blakely, we are very privileged to have the opportunity to frequently engage in debate and important discussions about the big questions with fundraisers from around the world. But not everyone has the space to do so. We are all so busy fulfilling our missions and hitting our targets that it can be isolating and feel like all the problems of the world sit on our shoulders.

To help you see that you are part of the wider collective, where many of us are facing similar challenges, Blakely conducted a survey utilizing the simple Google survey tool. While it’s directional in nature, we found there are some great ideas to share on what your colleagues are thinking about and experiencing right now.

The survey conducted earlier in 2021 gave us the chance to ask what type of giving was at the top of fundraiser’s minds. After a year of “pivots,” are fundraisers interested in something different or were core tactics/channels still top of mind? What came out, loud and clear, was that stability was being sought out, in the form of monthly giving. Monthly was ranked well above the next highest channel/tactic of digital media and email.

Likely, with investment in the digital channels, some organizations are now hedging slightly in tried and trusted methods of stable income – monthly giving being among the most stable. Further, when we asked these same fundraisers where their focus would be in 2022 and beyond, they once again indicated that monthly would be the focus, with the closest next being digital media and email a full 8 percentage points lower.

Finally, we know that monthly is an important source of migration to mid value and legacy giving, so the long-term implications of increased investment and focus in this area will also drive deeper relationships long-term and provide a shift away from a total focus on short-term revenue only. It will be fascinating to see how the pandemic will shift these behaviours and mindsets in the years to come.

We also know that many of us are experiencing significant stress and pressure to replace revenue, engage new audiences and grow programs, so we asked fundraisers what was keeping them up at night. As you might imagine, the global pandemic weighed heavily, specifically the uncertainty that it brings with it.

What this uncertainty and change brings is the need for strong and visionary leadership to cut through the clutter and bring the organization out of this crisis stronger than it went. Concerningly, 20% of our respondents indicated that the biggest challenges they were facing in their role was poor leadership and another 20% indicated their biggest challenge was lack of strategic thinking or expertise.

We clearly have some work to do as an industry. We saw from both this survey of fundraisers and our donor survey, that individuals are concerned about the transparency and trust of people and organizations in our industry. With news like the WE Charity scandal breaking and being highly publicized, the public is ever more skeptical of where their dollars are going and how we, as fundraisers, are stewards of them. As fundraisers, we are also thinking about this with the movement to more openness with salary, and the regular discussion about “best practice” on social media. There is a lot of change coming to the industry as it better understands the needs of the communities it serves, and trust and transparency will be cornerstones of that.

While we have heard of an impending leadership crisis, with Boomers retiring, it appears this is another area where the pandemic has sped up a trend. Much like how the systems integration and digital aptitude needs have accelerated, so too has the need to identify, mentor and support new leaders.

With this recognized, what can be done in your organization, or within your professional network, to elevate new voices and open doors of opportunity? These emerging leaders may have a different and useful approach while being coached along the way by those who have already made some missteps or tackled some of the challenges. Further, these emerging leaders can often be an amazing sounding board as fresh eyes to help find the way to better results and grow your network.

Of concern, when asked how much focus is being placed on mentorship in the workplace we saw only 28% placing significant attention on mentorship and the same number admitting that it’s “very little.” While it takes time to invest in the next wave of leaders we, at Blakely, know that this is so important. In fact, it’s one of our pillars and we will stay the course looking for ways to invest in our people.

We will continue to take the temperature of fundraisers, to understand how we can better support one another. Do you need a sounding board to talk to? Would you like to read more about the research Blakely is undertaking to understand donors and fundraisers? Reach out anytime.