Lolly Colombo

QUICK SHOT: Taming the Monster

BDI results show that 2020 didn’t get the better of us

This week, I’ve been thinking about the pandemic metaphorically as “the monster under the bed.”

TMI alert… Growing up, I had a monster under my bed, two in the basement, one under the staircase, two in the bathroom, another in the closet and one in the attic. (And yes, I had a very vivid imagination!) As a child, the imaginary monsters were real; yet, curiously enough, I was never terrified of them. In fact, I developed techniques to outsmart the monsters – like leaping from the hallway to the bed, shutting the door to the closet and hightailing it up the staircase.

I’m certainly not using this metaphor to make light of the pandemic. It’s been real and has directly or indirectly affected many people through illness, loss of life and, in countless cases, loss of livelihood. But the mindset aspect has certainly taken a heavy toll on us all as well. I believe the most pervasive and significant challenge has been the sense of uncertainty. Not knowing when… where… how it will strike. And as a fundraiser, not knowing how it will affect philanthropy and thereby, all the good work our clients deliver to those in greatest need in their communities.

For people who haven’t been significantly impacted by the virus, the pandemic has been an elusive “monster under the bed.” And, yet, I don’t think it has gotten the better of us, either. We’ve demonstrated resilience, creativity, courage. For the most part, we’ve learned to live around it, navigate our way through it, and rig our lives and livelihoods to continue to run our ministries successfully.

One of these great success stories is being lived out by Gospel Rescue Missions and other humanitarian/human service and religious charitable organizations across the country. I know that BDI is not alone in partnering for success with Missions, but we want to share our numbers – because they rock!!

Blackbaud recently released their report on overall giving trends by nonprofit sector for 2020:

  • Overall giving to Human Service nonprofits grew 12.1% in 2020, followed by faith-based organizations with an increase of 3.1%. Rescue Missions live comfortably in both of these spaces.
  • All other sectors (animal welfare, arts & culture, environment, health care, education, international, etc.) experienced downward trends – one sector, sadly, as depressed as -11.9%.
  • Our BDI Rescue Mission clients saw an increase of more than twice the Blackbaud averagea 25.3% increase in overall revenue from all sources – while giving from individual donors with gifts under $10,000 saw an increase of a colossal 41.1% YOY!

Yep… Rescue Missions hightailed it up the staircase ahead of national trends by leaps and bounds.

As a partner agency, BDI did not hide our heads under the covers. We operated immediately and intuitively, developing and delivering well-thought-out tactics and techniques to outwit the unknown. We created custom messaging for our clients addressing the increased unique needs and seemingly insurmountable challenges they were facing. Some clients chose to speak openly of the pandemic, while others preferred a more subdued line of messaging. Frankly, those who addressed the pandemic head-on in their direct response vehicles and overall messaging saw more auspicious results.

BDI clients overall saw 25.5% growth in active donors YOY. And how about the percentage of middle donors (for example, those with a single largest gift of $500-$999.99) that upgraded to at least one gift over $1,000 in 2020? Over half… more precisely, 54%.

There are a lot more numbers to share, but long story short… more donors gave more money more frequently.

Rescue Mission donors care deeply for those most vulnerable souls, and their compassion far outweighs uncertainty. Results like those experienced by our Mission clients are a testament to how they and we (as an agency partner) have navigated the fearsome unknown. Despite the teeth and the growl of the times in which we are living, compassionate and munificent donors have released generosity like never before.

Check out last week’s Quick Shot – “Here’s how to keep up with nonprofit fundraising…online!” ››

  • Lolly Colombo, Exec VP Client Services

    Lolly Colombo, Exec Vice President, Client Services

    Lolly has been in the trenches with compassion work on both the program side and the agency side for thirty years serving some of the world’s most beloved charities and faith-based organizations including The Salvation Army, Operation Blessing International, Food for the Hungry, International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, CBN, In Touch Ministries, and others.

More fuel for more impact.

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