The Dow Jones all-time high of 34,811 happened on May 7, 2021. Given the year we have had, I have been astonished at U.S. economic performance amid the disruption of the pandemic, the calls for justice, and political polarization. Yet, experts continue to promote economic optimism this year and in the coming years, some saying that the best is yet to come. Of course, all of that is subject to opinion and evolving data.
The economy and philanthropy are partners for life, and when the former does well, so does the latter. In 2020, depending on which report you read, overall giving increased slightly, or increased in some sectors, or decreased. In 2021 so far, we are seeing donors give generously, respond faster with pledges and payments, and volunteer more freely. Every capital campaign moss+ross is supporting is finding success. Longtime friends of these causes are stepping up, but moreover, new friends and donors are joining hands with our clients in transformative ways. Our clients have planned well, attracted great leadership, and are capitalizing on the economy.
Why is this happening?
The answer is simple: because the donors care and because the economy is supporting their ability to give. These donors care about their causes, they care about their universities and schools, they care about humanity. They want to do their part to help nonprofits.
Take advantage of the relationship between today’s strong economy and increased philanthropy. That is the only lesson of this article – invest in your fundraising program now, or you will miss one of the great fundraising opportunities of all time and regret it later. Here’s how:
1. Assess your organization’s needs; invest in your fundraising team. Your fundraising arm provides the fuel to serve the mission. As nonprofit leaders, it is your responsibility to ensure you have sustainable income. That task is equally as important as the actual services you deliver.
2. Create a fundraising staffing plan. If you need staff, define what positions you need, what they will do, and how you will phase their entry. Address how you will pay for this investment, and consider an interim solution. Sometimes a donor or a foundation will provide the support you need temporarily until the return on investment accrues.
3. Listen to what the fundraisers need. Engage your staff in this conversation. Do they need help with grants, special events, major gifts, annual giving, data entry, or communications? As a fundraiser for 40+ years, I am aware that we ask for a lot, and it is because we ask for what we need. Prioritize the needs in collaboration with the staff.
4. Create a written fundraising plan that assigns responsibility and accountability spanning a multi-year budget. Plans are one thing, delivering on them is another. Create a plan that is specific in its goals and tasks and one where successes and opportunities can be tracked.
If you need help with any of these tasks, please reach out. We love this work, and we know how to help you do it well.