TechSoup’s Fundraising Forecast and Recommendations for 2021

Originally published by TechSoup at on December 1, 2020.

All indications are that much of 2021 will be another lean pandemic year in nonprofit fundraising. NIH director Francis Collins said on the PBS Newshour recently, “let’s be prepared for the fact that life is not going to feel like it did in 2019 for another year.” The one silver lining is that after all these months of dealing with COVID 19 conditions, there is a pretty clear pandemic fundraising playbook now. Below, we’ll summarize what TechSoup discovered this past year about what is in that playbook so that your organization can thrive and prosper in 2021.

Reports from Around the Sector

The Association of Fundraising Professionals Forecast

Ben Miller in his AFP article Charitable Giving in Times of Fear and Uncertainty says that “if we look at what happened during the Great Recession, giving to nonprofits remained steady, with only slight declines over the entire period. He continues: “When the current crisis ends, history will show that the most successful nonprofits continued to ask for donations, although likely in a different way. Those nonprofits who go ‘silent’ or attempt to give their donors a break will likely see the same results as others before them — and suffer or even go out of business as a result.”

Daniel Mansoor’s Forecast

Ronen Tal, director of integrated marketing and fundraising at Nature Conservancy of Canada, concurs. A recent Wild Apricot piece featuring him recommends some new techniques for direct mail fundraising, most importantly to share emotionally compelling stories, not statistics.

Michael Stein’s Playbook

  • Continue to focus on donor cultivation and stewardship
  • Keep strengthening and adapting your case for giving
  • Embrace contact-free fundraising events
  • Empower your supporters to help you
  • Get your digital house in order

In this last point, Michael Stein recommends getting your website as user-friendly and compelling as possible. Mark Phillips of Bluefrog Fundraising in the U.K. amplifies Michael Stein’s point: “Donors want their most trusted charitable partners to have their house in order. You need to show how you have planned for the next stage of the pandemic and are ready to deliver services to those in need. Remember that your supporters are counting on you to deliver key services — they don’t want to have to worry about you as well!”

Also in Michael Stein’s playbook is the critical need for charities to continually test your messaging. He explains how to do basic email and website message testing in his How Nonprofits Can Improve Their Digital Engagement with Testing.

Try Something New

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

The new killer app for peer-to-peer fundraising is GoFundMe Charity. This new charity giving platform requires no upfront costs, contracts, or subscription fees to nonprofits.

In addition, the GoFundMe Donate Button service allows you to put a free donate button on your website or social media posts. The button can be customized with suggested donation amounts, branding, and color to fit your site.

SMS Messaging

Optimizing Your Website for Mobile Devices


Live-Stream Fundraising

Final Thoughts

Do whatever you can to get your ratings as high as possible on GuideStar and Charity Navigator. These rating services are where many prospective donors go to research your organization’s reputation. The more information that you provide to GuideStar, for instance, the better your GuideStar Seal of Transparency will be. It’s not difficult to get or gold or silver seal. Also check out Tina Jepson’s How to Update Your Nonprofit’s Charity Navigator Profile on CauseVox.

To keep your organization lean and efficient, we recommend having a look at veteran philanthropist Mario Morino’s Guidance for Nonprofit Leaders on Surviving the Next Year. Here is some of what he advises:

  • Inventory your funding sources
  • Map out a realistic cash-flow projection
  • Contingency plan for shortfalls
  • Accelerate and increase your digital transformation

Of course, keep a close watch for new government relief programs and also government, foundation and corporate grant opportunities. TechSoup partners Fluxx Grantseeker and GrantStation offer affordable grant prospecting services.

May we all live long and prosper.

Originally published at on December 1, 2020.

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