Preparing for the Fall 2021 Fundraising Landscape

CJ Orr, Vice President of the Orr Group, First Republic Bank
September 17, 2021

As 2021 rolls into it's final months, it's important that nonprofit organizations begin to think about the best ways to raise funds for the remainder of the year. Before we begin Giving Season, we have to think about how the fundraising landscape will be affected by the pandemic. 

This past year, as challenging as it has been, has lead to a lot of innovation and new insights for many different organizations. Because of these innovations, there are three things that we have learned about working during this pandemic that we can use as opportunities while fundraising this fall:

  1. Offering new and exciting ways to cater to donors and solicitations with hybrid work environments.
  2. Planning bigger fundraising initiatives.
  3. Expanding the way we approach planning in-person events.

How can these opportunities improve your organization? We'll take a look at each of these insights and expand on how you can use them in your nonprofit moving forward.

Hybrid work environments

In years prior to 2020, it would take months to set up a donor lunch or dinner. Sometimes events would need to be organized with the sole purpose of trying to get one or two potential major donors in the room. By comparison, 2020 changed the way we do business — everyone went remote. There was an unforeseen silver lining for organizations that pursued fundraising: the use of both in-person and remote engagement with donors.

Finding donors today can be as quick as picking up a Zoom call or a simple meeting in person. As you begin fundraising, there is ample opportunity to take advantage of this new normal. Several organizations have been systematically increasing their outreach and increasing the number of donor meetings.

The math is pretty straight-forward — increased outreach leads to increased donor meetings, which results in increased solicitations. This ultimately leads to an increase in fundraising. If you can increase your outreach and meeting metrics, it's almost a sure thing that your fundraising amounts will also increase.

Now that donors are jumping on impromptu Zoom calls and not waiting two months to sit down for a dinner that may often be rescheduled, the results speak for themselves. According to Giving USA, the total estimated charitable giving in the United States rose 5.1% between 2019 and 2020 (3.8% adjusted for inflation) to $471.44 billion.

Now that people are comfortable with both in-person and Zoom meetings, hybrid work environments cater well to increased fundraising metrics.

Planning a major fundraising initiative

Earlier in 2020, we wrote an article about why now is the best time in history to pursue a campaign or large fundraising initiative.

These three major factors still stand true in today's environment:

  1. The economy is rapidly growing and people have more disposable income.
  2. The tax law has not yet changed and donations can be one of the most efficient ways to reduce taxable income.
  3. We’re still in the middle of the largest wealth transfer in U.S. and global history.

With all of these factors working in your favor, this is a great way to pursue a significant fundraising initiative, like a capital campaign or a major gifts campaign. As you look to fundraise for the rest of 2021, keep in mind that your donors are familiar with these factors as well. 

Expanding event planning options

As more places begin to open up and we enter into a world co-existing with COVID-19, in-person events are becoming more prevalent. However, keep in mind that not all of your donors may feel comfortable attending in-person events. When planning events you should still be prepared to offer a virtual option or to pivot quickly based on the needs of your donors.

The bottom line is, if you are having an in-person option, offer a virtual aspect to the event. Feel free to livestream either through a vendor or on social media platforms such as Facebook, YouTube or Instagram.

Additionally, something to keep in mind, setting a date when you choose to continue to go in-person or go fully virtual. We usually recommend making this decision a month out.

The good news is, fundraising has remained strong through all types of event models — in-person, virtual or hybrid.

This fall may present more new challenges for fundraisers than the ever-changing spring of 2020. However, leaning into our learnings over the past few years can lead to a major fundraising opportunity.

The strategies mentioned in this article may have tax and legal consequences; therefore, you should consult your own attorneys and/or tax advisors to understand the tax and legal consequences of any strategies mentioned in this document. This information is governed by our Terms and Conditions of Use.