Technology & Operations

The end of 2020 is coming up quickly, much to the delight of many who are ready for this year to be behind us. For those in our industry, the end of the year is still a flurry of activity as you assess quarterly or year-end goals, revisit performance metrics, and ensure that your donor base is still engaged in new and creative ways. Here are some tips for allocating your year-end budget to help define your success in 2021.

Make the Jump into AI

AI is a big topic these days, and our recent survey shows that there is still a gap between the institutional vision for AI and actual implementation of AI. This emergence of data science and AI is gaining traction every year, so investing now in AI will pay dividends in 2021.

Build Digital Development Officer Programs

During the pandemic, many programs were forced to diversify their annual giving programs, with many reporting great success from developing digital development officer programs to supplement the established phone program strategies. Assessing your digital engagement programs now will allow your annual giving program to start 2021 on the right foot.

Reboot Your Metrics

Fundraising has changed. Have you adapted your metrics for your new normal? No one anticipated the worldwide shutdown of travel and in-person communications last spring, so organizations had to work quickly to adjust fundraising metrics to meet their teams’ changing environments and responsibilities. There is still much uncertainty as we head into 2021, so make sure your organization has reviewed and readjusted your metrics to reflect the current realities of fundraising at all levels of your organization.

Plan Your 2021 Giving Day

You may have postponed or cancelled your 2020 giving day due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so now is the time to plan for 2021! This is your chance to go big with virtual events, activities, and challenges. Your constituents will enjoy seeing how your organization has creatively worked through the difficulties and obstacles that 2020 has brought, so plan to feature your success stories to inspire your donors to give big in 2021.

Refresh Your Data Governance Policies

In this new era of big data, many nonprofits are recognizing the important role data governance plays in supporting key fundraising strategies and informing data-driven decision making. Have you reviewed your comprehensive data governance program to ensure that your data management, corresponding policies, procedures, and practices are serving as a solid foundation from which leadership can make critical business decisions? To define success in 2021, you’ll want to make sure your organization is making decisions based on the most trusted information and analysis possible.

Conduct a Risk Management Assessment

No organization, despite its best efforts and good intentions, can mitigate all risk associated with fundraising. There are definitely times when donors who were once deemed perfectly acceptable, even praiseworthy, fall out of favor and seemingly overnight, become personae non gratae. There are several things to consider to ensure you’re as prepared as possible should the worst scenario unfold. These can include establishing a risk-management matrix for your organization and reviewing and revising your written policies for widespread adoption in your organization.

Realcast Your Goals

Analysts will want to disregard traditional pipeline forecasting methods as they work on 2021 projections. Consider realcasting—recasting your projections against the changing economic landscape of industry and other job markets. By understanding how the current trends are affecting donor activity through the lens of shifting markets, you can retarget your team’s portfolios for 2021.

Evaluate Your Philanthropic Priorities

Most organizations have done extensive revisions of their philanthropic agendas and priorities this year. In fact, many have done several rounds of updates! A key for success in 2021 is to have a clearly understood and actionable agenda that provides direction on advancing your organization’s mission, even during uncertain times. While you don’t want to back away from your current case for support, you do want to continue forward-focused momentum.

Convert Your Single-Issue Donors

Many organizations have seen increased donor activity this year in response to the pandemic, environment, or activism events. Do you have strategies in place to turn them into longer-term donors? Finding creative ways to engage these new donors is key to increasing support for your mission, whether through new digital activities, segmentation, or changes to your prospecting process.

By reviewing and implementing some of these suggested strategies, and by continuing to work together toward advancing your mission, your organization will be off to a great start in 2021. If you have any questions or would like further details about any of the above initiatives, please contact us at