Happy February to all. Many of us are hoping for a quick rollout of COVID vaccinations, while nonprofit organizations and education institutions are creating strategic plans to open up facilities and operate safely in the future. Fundraising professionals continue to identify and reach out to donors and prospective donors with a level of uncertainty still lingering due to the impact of the pandemic. In this newsletter, we are sharing insights from recent reports that will enable you to produce an effective fundraising plan for the year.
First, it’s worth looking at a report from Data Axle that outlines best practices for nonprofits when connecting with today’s donors. This data was collected from a survey of over 1,200 charitable donors. Some of the key findings from the report include:
Young donors who are between 18 to 29 years of age are more likely to set up recurring donations,
Email is the preferred communications channel for 48 percent of respondents,
51 percent of donors say they have not changed their charitable gift amount during the pandemic, and
Multichannel fundraising strategy is now significant.
These discoveries are important to keep in mind as nonprofits need to communicate with donors continuously and successfully. The survey also noted that donors feel loyal to a nonprofit when its mission remains meaningful to them. Another report by Virtuous and NextAfter, found that "multi-channel donors give more than three times as much as single-channel donors, yet only three percent of nonprofits sent multi-channel communications to online and offline donors.” Click here to access a PDF of the report.
A recent article in CASE Currents magazine, “Major Gift Fundraising During COVID-19: Trends and Takeaways,” focuses on metrics from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois that reveal some trends in fundraising during COVID-19. It may also be interesting to look at our institutions’ metrics to find out what we can learn. By inspecting their major gifts data, Northwestern learned that in 2020, the overall dollar amount raised only fell slightly compared to the previous year. They found that major gift numbers continued to grow, despite a decreased number of major gift solicitations. This may have been due to the fact that major gift donors felt more motivated to contribute to causes they care about and that these major donors were already deeply engaged with the university. The article also notes how gift officers’ use of virtual engagement strategies and other technological tools during the pandemic may have helped with closing major gifts much faster than before. However, the article states that there is a chance that major gifts may be slowing down during the winter months, and that international fundraising may continue to take a substantial hit. Though we may be met with challenges in the future, looking at previous data on different giving programs at institutions will help with creating improved and innovative work processes to overcome these challenges.
We would like to acknowledge that February is national African American History Month. As we continue to increase awareness of diversity and inclusion, we encourage you to take a look at this report on high-net-worth donors of color that maybe beneficial in your fundraising efforts. As always, please feel free to reach out us with questions, comments or any assistance with prospect research!
Sapna and USM Advancement Research Team
Did you know?
The University System of Maryland Foundation has access to a library of recorded webinars from the Annual Giving Network (AGN) that you may watch at any time from your computer. While we cannot currently gather in person for professional development events, this work from home period provides a great opportunity for you to learn on your own time! Please click here to see what webinars are available fromAGN.
If you are interested, please email Linda Bowman (firstname.lastname@example.org) and she will help you access these webinars for free. Please do not try to access these webinars on your own, as you will be charged a fee.
Please also note that the Foundation only has access to free AGN webinars, not workshops. Workshops are available at a marginally discounted rate.
This article from APRA discusses how Texas Christian University (TCU) found new ways to find valuable prospects for their gift officers during the pandemic. TCU has four researchers and a director to support a development team of 35. A major gift at the university starts at $100,000. While the pandemic has negatively impacted many financially, that is not the case for everyone across the board. A researcher's job is to identify those who are doing well financially and to trust in their data and utilize it. This article outlines specific actions TCU's team took during the pandemic to ensure that they were identifying good prospects even during uncharted times.
Your fundraising office can do hours of research on a donor and never understand them fully. In other words, there's no replacement in speaking with a donor directly and making a connection. According to this article from Forbes, fundraisers often learn major gift solicitation from other fundraisers rather than going to the source - people who are actual major gift donors. In her book, Philanthropy Revolution, Philanthropist Lisa Greer shares three takeaways fundraisers can learn from major donors. First, update archaic strategies. Next, be an authentic listener, and lastly, research your donors' stories. Click here to read how to apply these lessons to your own work.
In December, Bowie State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore received $25 million and $20 million, respectively, from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. The USM schools weren't the only recipients of her major gifts - overall she donated nearly $4.16 billion to 384 organizations. What can we learn from Scott's donation approach? This article from GG+A discusses five lessons we can take away from Scott's generous recent gifts.
The Helen Brown Group compiled a chart in order to see what the Forbes magazine's top 25 donors of 2020's greatest giving priorities were in the past year. Education (including student emergency funds and university-based virus and vaccine research) was the number one priority, followed by health and medical research more generally. The environment, poverty, and arts were also high on the list. Click here to see the full chart.
The San Fransisco-based donor advised fund, Schwab Charitable released their 2020 giving report which revealed some donor trends. For example, the top charities supported by Schwab Charitable donors in 2020 were Feeding America, Doctors without Borders, Salvation Army, Planned Parenthood, and Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ). More than half of respondents in a recent survey of Schwab Charitable donors said they are planning to increase the amount of money they grant to charity during the next 12 months. Another 44 percent said they will support a new charity in the coming year especially those that deliver vital human services such as food, housing, and disaster recovery. Read more findings here.