QUICK SHOT: Use these 3 steps to navigate the current fundraising landscape

In turbulent times, fundraisers like YOU shine

By Kevin Bryant, Director of Client Partnerships

I once forded a raging mountain stream, struggling under the weight of a 45-pound backpack. Rainfall the night before caused the waters to swell dangerously. Heading upstream, out of the canyon, was the only way out. Each step in the water was quickly becoming more treacherous – one slip could be fatal. I remember being halfway across, frozen with fear, not wanting to move forward. But fear didn’t win that day, and I pray it won’t win for you because I know a little secret… in turbulent times, fundraisers shine!

For our fellow fundraisers who work in Human Services nonprofits, 2022 already feels like a time when it would be nice to scramble back to the bank and what was familiar. With rising inflation, a lingering pandemic and eviction moratoriums ending (impacting all sides), fundraisers are in troubled waters. 

But here’s some good news:

The sun will shine and so will you.

As you begin your strategic fundraising planning and budgeting, following the right steps can completely change the landscape. Fundraisers should consider the following three actions to help you you navigate these turbulent waters:

Take the risk – the time is right.

Many Human Services organizations saw an increase in giving during the pandemic. This not only created revenue growth, but often a budget surplus. 

According to Foundation For Fundraising, overall giving in 2020 increased by more than 10% from 2019. Donations remain the highest in 5 years. General donors (under $250) gave 15% more with Major Donors (over $1000) stepping up with a 10% increase.   

Although 2021 national trends haven’t been released yet, BDI clients (and most Human Services organizations) have seen continued growth over their pre-pandemic results from before 2019. Not as robust as 2020, but it’s still a signal for fundraisers that the time remains ripe for continued growth. 

So expand your outreach. The window for developing new donor relationships is wide open… and direct response is one of your strongest tools. Strategically focusing on direct transactional prospects will provide a much higher ROI in the long run – especially when events, volunteerism and personal visits will still be slow starting. Sending out strong mail and digital communications is essential. 

Consider systems upgrades – invest in new giving technologies.

Change is tough, but inevitable. Your current operating and data systems may be comfortable for your staff, but may be inhibiting real growth opportunities. 

For example, new CRM platforms are automating fundraising, marketing and development activities. Older systems don’t provide immediate integration, data reporting or dashboards. Manual input is time consuming and costly.  

New gift processing hardware and software can also substantially decrease data entry time. New automation tools are available to streamline your processes and shorten acknowledgement windows. The happiest donors are the ones who are thanked quickly (within 48 hours)!  

Finally, data security is everything. Be sure your data procedures, processes and cyber insurance is maximized. Your organization and donors deserve it… and you will sleep better at night. 

Choose your team – walk with the right strategic partners.

Here’s where I’ll finish the mountain stream story. Remember, I was standing in the stream, nearly frozen in fear. Stepping ever so carefully, determinedly looking down at the rushing water, I heard a voice. I raised my eyes to find a trail mate, firmly planted on the bank ahead, with his hand outstretched toward me. 

Too often, we’re so entrenched in our own situation that we forget to look forward…  not realizing there are those better positioned to help us. With technology, automation and digital communication moving so quickly, it can be confusing, distractive and cost ineffective when not researched or implemented correctly. 

So look for Strategic Partners that walk your path (your cause) and can help maneuver you through turbulent waters. Choose trained, licensed and experienced professionals who know the ever-changing fundraising landscape, and have the insights and experience to navigate the currents safely and effectively.  

But most importantly, seek associates that will keep their eyes, ears and heart focused on the journey and help guide you to a bright future. 

Change is hard, but these tips will help you be better prepared to weather the challenges that come your way. Don’t let these turbulent times leave you stranded in the midst of raging waters… this is your moment to shine!

Check out last week’s Quick Shot – “5 “must-haves” for your email marketing program”>>

  • Kevin Bryant

    Kevin Bryant, Director of Client Partnership

    Internationally recognized as an ECHO and ADDY Award winning creative talent, Kevin is a fundraising veteran with clients including; The North American Mission Board, Salvation Army, American Red Cross, Paralyzed Veterans of America, Precept and Guidepost Ministries, and Samaritan’s Purse. Having worked on both the agency and client side, he’s dedicated to building a bridge between the two to make programs and partnerships successful.

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