8 Major Lessons Learned from Nonprofit Fundraising in 2021

The BDI team is sharing their 8 lessons learned on nonprofit fundraising, marketing and leadership in 2021…

Can you believe… it’s almost 2022!

Before launching into the New Year, it is important that your team takes time to reflect on the major lessons learned from nonprofit fundraising in 2021. What did your team do right? What could your team do differently next year? And how can these lessons learned help to strengthen your goals for 2022? 

In the spirit of closing the chapter on 2021, the BDI Team wants to share our eight major lessons learned from nonprofit fundraising, marketing and leadership. We hope you can glean insight from these reflections and use them to strengthen your plans for the year ahead. 

  1. Trust is our most valuable professional resource
Michael Tomlinson

It’s a reflection of co-investment, alignment, commitment and growing together. Trust can be challenging to earn and easy to lose, but it is the very foundation of relationships that can ultimately transcend the operations of business (or ministry) and allow us to meet on the common field of mission. Trust also allows us to have faith – and faith will be the fuel for winning together come whatever may.

From Michael J. Tomlinson, BDI CEO & President

  1. Remember the ‘why’ behind your work

Over the last year I have relearned the importance of staying in touch with why we do what we do. It is easy for me to be focused on urgent day to day tasks and not stop to view firsthand the powerful life changing compassionate care our clients shower down on those they serve. A visit to a rescue mission campus always has a powerful, encouraging and motivating influence on me.

From Phil Stolberg, BDI Chief Operating Officer 

  1. Fundraising success relies on the empathy of others
Lolly Colombo

This year, I’ve discovered something new about empathy. Even as humankind has shared so much in the last 20-plus months: a common threat, a communal uncertainty, a collective vulnerability, similar limitations… I’ve personally never felt a spirit of more “otherness” in the world than now. Empathy is the ability to understand, feel and even share the emotions of another person, walk in their shoes, apply understanding to their reactions, experience the world from an “other’s” perspective.  

I believe empathy has increased for those who have suffered illness, loss and are hungry or homeless (as we’ve seen unprecedented levels of generosity to social service NPOs in 2020-2021) – but (look around) not so much for others who think differently, believe differently, feel differently. That’s the crux of “otherness.” It’s our calling to exercise love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control with one an “other” in every situation. People need the Lord. Easy or not, convenient or not… these virtues must always be the foundation of our empathetic response.

From Lolly Colombo, Exec VP Client Services 

  1. In times of uncertainty, lean on your community  
Shellie Speer

Over the past year, I’ve seen both the compassion and resiliency of community. Through BDI Academy, we have provided resources, assets and training that has allowed our clients to face uncertainty head on by building relationships with the community. It is these relationships that drive hope and love instead of worry and fear. Our clients have been incredibly blessed with community… and through it all God has been glorified. Most importantly, more lives than ever have been transformed.

From Shellie Speer, Senior VP BDI Academy

  1. Stay informed on USPS changes and paper industry updates
Brewer Direct (BDI) team, Rosemary Weik

This year, I have learned how compassionate people are during a pandemic, which is such a blessing for our Missions! I also learned just how much the pandemic affected staffing, postal rates, mailing times and the paper industry. It reinforced the importance of staying up to date on changes in the USPS, and how that could affect nonprofit fundraising campaigns. It has been a rough year to be in production! But I am hopeful for what lies ahead in 2022. 

From Rosemary Weik, Senior Production Manager

  1. Create strong system integration between your fundraising tools and processes 

This year, I’ve gained a better understanding of the depth and the breadth of the services we provide to our clients, both on the creative team and throughout the agency. I’ve become even more aware of system integration, and the importance behind building strong processes that lay a foundation for the work that we do for BDI’s clients.

From Lena Salazar, Senior Production Artist

  1. Tap into the power of your fundraising data

I’ve worn many hats throughout my career having the privilege to serve many nonprofits – from Client Services, Production and now Data Services. Serving in the role as Data Specialist at BDI has opened my eyes to the importance of data. It empowers you to make better, more informed decisions.  

Through data, you have quantitative means to track and measure results. As our clients work hard to serve those who are in desperate need, data allows them to connect with the direct resources (donors) who are most likely to respond. This is crucial when it comes to ROI and eliminates the guessing game, if you will. Data is knowledge, and knowledge is power to move forward and actualize work to serve our Mission partners, and in turn help them serve those in need, every day. 

From Julie Siemens, Data Specialist

  1. Choose your donation platforms wisely 

This year I learned that platforms matter. ESPECIALLY for the donation experience. Before a Mission chooses a donation platform because it is the cheapest option or it integrates the easiest with their database, they must consider the donor experience: How does the form look on desktop and mobile? How long does it take to fill out all the fields? How easily can donations be tracked? How quickly are donors being thanked after their donation, and what does that thank you look like? 

People are much more patient when purchasing something online than they are slogging through a cumbersome donation form. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that your supporters are going through a smooth and optimized donation process. 

From Justine Morales, Senior Implementation Specialist

You need to read this! Click here to read “Donor Advised Funds are Hot! Key Takeaways from Giving USA’s NEW Special Report” from BDI’s CEO and President, Michael J. Tomlinson. 

More fuel for more impact.

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