Whether you are in a campaign now or considering the next one, it’s essential to reflect on what has changed during the past year and what the best path forward is in the current climate. Here are some tips to help you plan for a campaign in today's environment taken from a recent webinar I conducted with my colleague John Keith.
Life is full of opportunities and challenges, and we certainly faced our share in 2020. However, not everything we’ve gone through in the last year is negative. There are some lessons learned we may want to keep – opportunities to capitalize on in the future. It is important to learn from each challenge so you can prepare, mitigate, and more easily turn the next challenge into an opportunity. That’s called resiliency. It sounds easy—but let’s be honest: it isn’t.
Resiliency is the ability to recover from a setback, adapt to new challenges, and keep going in the face of adversity. In a nonprofit, as a staff or volunteer leader, one of the best tools to foster resiliency no matter what is thrown at your organization—internally or externally—is a strategic plan, which:
- provides a road map to lead your organization from where you are now to where you would like to be in the future;
- sets priorities and focuses your organization’s resources; and
- establishes measurable goals and a template to evaluate progress and adapt to a changing environment.
On a recent JGA webinar, I shared six tips to help you create a resilient organization by building resiliency into your strategic planning.
As we begin to feel the warmer breezes of Spring and the sense of renewal it brings with it, it seems a great time to reflect on what we learned—and not just say “Good riddance!” to a most unusual year. We may just find that there are some lessons we learned as we pivoted during the pandemic which we can carry forward to help boost relationships, efficiency, and even fundraising results.
“Anyone who has been involved in philanthropy, either as a donor, volunteer, or development professional, knows the joy that comes from giving generously or serving as an intermediary to a generous gift.” – Daniel A. Schipp, Senior Consultant, JGA
Since March 2020, our motto at JGA has been “generosity is not cancelled.” So many things in our lives have been cancelled due to the pandemic, but generosity is not one of them. Donors have not stopped sharing their gifts of time, talent, and treasure. We have seen this generosity in support of campaigns, days of giving, and ongoing operations, as well as a continued commitment to volunteerism – although the format has changed in a virtual world.
What does this mean for 2021? As you look toward continuing to raise philanthropic support for your mission in 2021, what will you do to set the stage for generosity to continue?
There is a multi-dimensional challenge facing churches in America that has me concerned, and I think you should be as well. Given my background, it should not surprise you that I am concerned about this matter. (Prior to joining JGA as a senior consultant, I spent twenty-five years working in development for a religious institution, and during my twelve years with JGA, I have worked with more than fifty faith-based organizations.) The challenge is related to several troubling trends in the current U.S. religious landscape. As I will explain later, I think you also should be concerned . . . whether or not your fundraising is for a religious-affiliated organization.
My concern is threefold: 1) Giving to religious organizations as a percentage of total philanthropy is declining substantially; 2) participation in congregations is at a historic low; and 3) the changed religious practices brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic could have a continuing, long-term impact on congregations.
Last night President Trump signed the new economic stimulus package that provides $900 billion in emergency relief funds. Although the discussion has understandably focused on the $600 stimulus checks, there are also significant provisions associated with charitable giving and the nonprofit sector.
Keep in mind that these are not the primary reasons a donor makes a gift. Your mission matters the most. Tax planning affects how they give, not why.
We are pleased to offer this guest blog post by Tyrone McKinley Freeman, Ph.D. If you would like to learn more about Madam C.J. Walker and the tradition of Black philanthropy, listen to the webinar which we recently recorded with Dr. Freeman, Madam C.J. Walker's Gospel of Giving: Insights on the Past, Present, and Future of African American Generosity.
By Tyrone McKinley Freeman, Ph.D.
In 1914, Walker told a local Indianapolis Freeman newspaper interviewer about the joy she experienced in giving to others. “She takes great stock in the theory that the Lord loves a cheerful giver,” observed the writer following their conversation. But Walker was not simply invoking II Corinthians 9:7, she was expressing deeply rooted convictions grounded in her faith commitment to the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. In fact, Walker’s religious identity had a significant impact on her philanthropy.
As I write in my book, Madam C.J. Walker’s Gospel of Giving: Black Women’s Philanthropy during Jim Crow (University of Illinois, 2020), the AME Church played a powerful role in the transformation story of how this Black woman rose from a southern cotton plantation to live a life of faith and generosity that continues to inspire 100 years later. Walker’s early experiences in the AME Church excited her moral imagination, and guided much of her philanthropy for the rest of her life.
As we enter the year-end giving season, it is important to remember the practical implications of the tax law changes made earlier this year as a part of the economic stimulus packages in response to COVID-19. The CARES Act (passed into law on March 27, 2020) contains provisions that potentially affected the planning considerations of your donors for this year.
As we search for positive outcomes from the COVID-19 pandemic, we might note that our tech skills have improved, or maybe we’ve mastered a new way to do second-grade math. But certainly, other lessons learned could have a longer shelf life, like unexpected opportunities with donors and prospects or adaptations on the fly that actually seem to work!
It is important to reflect on what ideas and practices have risen to the top as necessity forced us to try different ways to communicate and connect with one another. One thing is sure, large doses of flexibility and understanding were needed—and still are—to navigate the situations that seem to change by the minute in our professional and personal lives in the times we are in.
I recently hosted a webinar with Melanie Harmon, Senior VP of Advancement at Manchester College, focused on Frontline Fundraising and Events Go Virtual: A Look at Donor Engagement Techniques that explored some takeaways from the past few months for our work with donors. Here is an overview of some of those lessons and ideas on incorporating them into our work in the months and years to come.