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.
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.
Data plays a vital role in the world of nonprofits. It is a critical tool that helps you make smarter decisions, and it can play a key role in supporting future investment in your efforts.
Your data tells a story that can help you identify key trends as you think towards the future. Sometimes determining what that story says can be a challenge, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by too much data. But with the right guidance, you can quickly gain clarity that can make decision making much easier. For more information on how others are using data in fundraising to achieve results, download our content collection, How to Use Data to Improve Your Fundraising, produced by Chronicle Intelligence, a division of the Chronicle of Philanthropy, in partnership with JGA.
Successful organizations know that it’s important to use the data you have to guide decisions that will help you build stronger and deeper relationships with your donors and friends in the most efficient and effective way possible. Many are using that data to guide future investments in fundraising.
What role will philanthropy play as your organization prepares to welcome students back to campus, host performances, open the doors to your museum or resume in-person gatherings at your place of worship?
If you have ventured out of the house, you have seen the modifications that businesses are making to welcome customers back – plexiglass at checkout counters and drive-through windows, signage to accommodate social distancing in lines and many other modifications.
Each of you needs to develop and implement plans to help protect your stakeholders as you re-open your doors.
The timeframe and requirements for each of you to resume operations will vary drastically based on location, size of the groups, type of activities and the demographics of your constituency. But, no matter the differences, much planning will be required. Have you considered how philanthropy can be a part of your re-opening plans?
Though personal visits are the gold standard to engage and cultivate major gift donors, they can be costly and labor intensive if you are not seeing the right prospects. But how can you ensure you are connecting with the best prospects?
Your database holds the answer. Big data is a buzz word we’re hearing more and more about, particularly for its ability to organize large volumes of data to uncover hidden trends and its ability to make organizations more efficient through predictive analytics. This emerging trend involves utilizing historical data to find patterns and correlations to build assumptions and develop potential scenarios. So how do we take those concepts and put them into practice with our nonprofit organizations?
The trick to finding major and planned gift donors within your data is to identify those with both the ability to make a major donation, as well as the affinity to give to your organization. A good prospect has not only the capacity to give to your organization, but also an interest and inclination to give to your mission.
While you can’t grow a prospect’s capacity, inclination can be nurtured through cultivation.
According to Giving USA 2019: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2018, American giving reached $427.71 billion in 2018, an increase of 0.7 percent in terms of current dollars but a decline of 1.7 percent from 2017, when adjusted for inflation. Even adjusted for inflation, charitable giving reached its second highest level ever in 2018, second only to 2017. Thus, 2018 is seen as a very strong but complex year in terms of philanthropy.
What this Means for Healthcare Organizations:
Giving to health reached $40.78 billion in 2018. While growth over 2017 was nearly flat at just 0.1 percent (or declined by 2.3 percent when adjusted for inflation), the sector had its second highest level of giving ever when adjusted for inflation. Large gifts are common in this sector but donor retention lags behind other sectors. According to the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy’s 2018 annual Report on Giving, the largest sources of healthcare funds raised in 2017 were corporate/foundation and major gifts, followed by special events, annual gifts, and planned giving.
Would you be surprised to learn that most nonprofits are failing to make use of one of their most valuable resources? What if I told you that that resource is 100% free?
According to Giving USA 2018: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2017, total charitable giving in the United States grew by 5.2 percent to $410.02 billion in 2017. This marks the highest total amount given in the 40 years Giving USA has tracked this data, both in current dollars and when adjusted for inflation.
With this milestone year, U.S. giving continues a steady growth trend over the past eight years, indicating a positive climate for philanthropy. Giving to every category of recipient organizations increased when measured in current dollars, except for international affairs, which dropped by 4.4 percent. Four subsectors (foundations; arts, culture and humanities; public-society benefit; and health) saw significant growth of 7 percent or more, with foundations leading the way with an impressive 15.5 percent growth over 2016.
What this Means for Health Organizations:
Giving to health increased by 7.3% in 2017, with a total of $38.27 billion—the highest amount the subsector has ever received in both current and inflation-adjusted terms, surpassing the previous year’s high of $33.14 billion. Growth for health organizations has increased for the past six years, at an average of 7.9 percent from 2013 – 2017. This growth rate well exceeds the growth rate of 4.3 percent in total giving across all subsectors for the same period.
Nonprofit organizations across the country utilize campaigns to rally key constituents around programs and projects that move the organization forward. Fundraising campaigns provide a great platform to share the vision of the organization, serve as the catalyst to engage volunteers in hands-on fundraising activities, and significantly increase philanthropic resources to the organization. When done properly, campaigns can significantly enhance an organization’s impact and improve operations, however, much planning and preparation are required before moving into a campaign.
The role of planned gifts in a campaign is one area that must be discussed early. Planned gifts are funding as much as 40 percent of some comprehensive campaign goals, so it is crucial to establish a clear policy for these types of donations before beginning to solicit gifts for a campaign.
Giving USA is a valuable resource for nonprofits, providing not only a snapshot on giving for the last year, but additional insight into longitudinal trends and sector-specific giving. We've taken a look at implications for higher education nonprofits a few weeks ago and now would like to share with you some insights on trends uncovered in the data on healthcare philanthropy.