The last two years have been tough for most nonprofits. Now that there's some light at the end of the tunnel, you may feel more optimistic and with a renewed dedication to your cause.
How can you extend the concept of renewal to your organization's operations and even grow in 2022? Here are seven ideas:
Charitable donations are increasing. In a year marked by unprecedented challenges, donors gifted a record $471.5 billion in 2020, according to "Giving USA 2021," an annual report from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. If your organization isn't receiving what it considers its "fair share," you may need to change your fundraising strategies.
Take an in-depth look at your current practices and consider potential pivots. You might focus on how you solicit donations, what you ask for, what your fundraising goals are and how close you come to meeting them. Identify those practices that contribute to unsatisfactory results and improve or replace them.
During the pandemic lockdown, many nonprofits regularly touched base with donors and sponsors, even if it was only by phone or videoconference. By all indications, these efforts were well received and helped strengthen existing relationships. So don't abandon efforts to reach out! Continuing to check in with major stakeholders can strengthen existing relationships and help foster new ones.
It's always a good idea to ask donors for feedback. And studies have shown that the youngest generation of adults are particularly interested in engaging with charities in meaningful ways. You can encourage supporters to provide input via email, direct mail surveys and focus groups. Consider following up with enthusiastic donors by hosting a live event or videoconference during which you can dive into deeper conversations.
Tell a Story
What motivates someone to make a donation? Of course, it varies from person to person, but a narrative can be critical. Stories make a charitable mission more personal to donors, especially if they relate to a real-life scenario. For example, charities raising money for cancer research can tell stories about cancer patients that appeal to the common experience of having family members or friends with cancer.
Even if potential donors don't have the experience of, for example, being homeless, social services organizations can tell a story of a particular person who is unhoused. If you've relied on the same case studies or examples for years, make an effort to craft a few new ones.
Address Longstanding Problems
Does your nonprofit harbor unresolved issues or problems that never seem to get resolved?
Whether the issue is inadequate manager training, cybersecurity holes or frequent budget shortfalls, don't waste any more time — fix it. If your organization was functioning well before the pandemic, look closely at it and assess whether anything has changed and should be addressed.
Although the pandemic was disastrous for some nonprofits, others actually received an outpouring of support. If your organization is in the latter camp, consider putting your capital to good use. For example, you might allocate funds to technology upgrades or building renovations. Ask what you'll need to expand your reach and launch new initiatives. Extra funds deployed prudently can help get you there.
Cater to your Donor Base
Charitable giving has changed dramatically in the past decade. Donors are less likely to make gifts on autopilot to the same charities they've always supported. Today's gift-givers are smarter and more aware of how charities are disbursing funds and achieving objectives. So make sure your organization has adjusted to this reality and is regularly producing quantifiable results that can be clearly communicated to stakeholders.
As the new year begins and the pandemic slips into the background, think about what you might do differently. Although you don't want to mess with anything that's wildly successful, there are likely outstanding questions and issues that could benefit from a fresh approach.