Fundraising in 2020

What will the art and practice of fundraising look like in 2020 and beyond? We can already see the writing on the wall, written by our colleagues on the for-profit side. 

Big commercial brands are using sophisticated marketing techniques, powered by advanced technology, to give consumers unique and personalized content that allows memorable interaction (even if only virtually) with their products.  Brands are now seeking to emotionally connect with their consumers—an approach that was once wholly owned by non-profits. Brand loyalty is no longer the goal; they seek self-appointed brand ambassadors. 

Futurist J. Walker Smith calls this the “Kinship Economy”: How marketing is about social relationships and building personal relationships, not brand relationships and managing brands.

The implications for fundraising are profound, especially as big brands enter a space once solely occupied by organizations and as demographics shift to a greater reliance on mobile and social technology, which are all about connectivity and personal exchanges.

In our own direct response fundraising past, we see these evolutions.  Personalizing a letter allowed the contributor to feel greater satisfaction with an organization.  We now use mail, phone, email, and social media to market our message across different channels.  But what was once good enough for our industry, will surely not be enough for the coming years.

The changes being brought by advancing technologies have the capacity to be profound – but they must not be viewed as a means to an end.  What does this mean and how do nonprofits move forward in 2020?

Get Ready for 2020 and beyond–Some Tips for Today:

Tip #1: Build One Budget

Build one budget and one revenue goal that are not channel or department specific. Stop the battle of gift attribution.

Tip #2: Long-Term Budget Planning

Insist on long-term budget planning.  Planning for the organization’s next “ridge line” is as important as reporting on the current quarter. Short term thinking and lack of resources has crippled even the most the successful organization during challenging fundraising times.

Tip #3: Invest in Technology

Evaluate technology and jettison legacy systems that don’t allow for true channel integration. The ability to connecting the dots across all channels and all departments is imperative and cannot be delayed.

At the same time, if your organization’s budgeting and accounting systems are cumbersome, time-consuming, and staff spends too much time on preparing reports, it is time to change your system. 

Tip #4: Create a Testing Budget

Be sure that you are already planning and budgeting for innovation – what is your program’s commitment to taking risks on new messaging, techniques, channels and testing?

Tip #5: Map your Constituents’ Journeys

Map each constituent cohort’s journey through your organization to ensure coordinated communications and a seamless donor experience.

Tip #6: Redevelop your Case for Support

Develop a case for support that goes beyond bricks and mortar to illustrate the value you give the donor, and how you enhance their life and reinforce their values.

Tip #7: Redefine how you Interact with Donors

Make organizational agility, speed and “friction-free” interactions with donors core business values.

Build real relationships with your donors by giving them access and being accountable and transparent. Donors are resisting the mass-market or quasi one-one marketing approaches that once worked.  Messaging needs to be authentic, relevant and personal. For example, are your social media posts just organizational communiques?

Tip #8: Hire a New Type of Staff Member

Hire staff because they have the ability to communicate and engage – not just execute and implement.  Omni channel fundraising requires not just staff to understand the systems you use, but also to intimately be able to manage multiple channels and modify the organization’s voice to be channel-appropriate and still motivate and inspire its organization’s constituents.

Tip #9: Realize that Payment Methods Are Changing

Be thinking about the growth of non-traditional payment options, such as the growing use of “E” & “Green” checks.

Tip #10: Invest in Your Staff

Always.