WPI wanted to understand how the pandemic and the resulting economic shifts would impact both their FY20 fundraising goal and the next few years of its $500M Beyond These Towers campaign (including the timing of the public launch). The head of Advancement operations wondered if WPI’s fundraising resiliency during and after both the 2008 great recession and 9/11 would be any indicator of resiliency during the pandemic. Ultimately, WPI decided that it needed to forecast 2020-2021 fundraising revenue and plan for a variety of scenarios given the economic uncertainty brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
To provide WPI with the analytics and forecasts it needed to inform strategic decisions, BWF created a rating system based on individuals’ employment data and NAICS sector and matched all employment data to available economic trends and research, generating several different month-to-month forecasts that highlighted “best case,” “recession-informed,” and “worst-case” scenarios. A predictive model was built that focused on identifying constituents most likely to continue to support WPI regardless of macroeconomic trends and downturns. Resiliency and sector risk ratings for each of WPI’s assigned prospects were also delivered, allowing fundraisers to know how to continue the conversation with donors and whether an ask in 2020 was appropriate. For one particular eight-figure ask, the ratings were influential in deciding whether or not to make the solicitation. WPI chose to move ahead, and the ask was closed successfully.
“Our collaboration with BWF meant that during an extreme time of uncertainty, we had a team of colleagues and fundraising experts ready and waiting to assist. Andy understood what we needed and the questions we had to answer, and he delivered beyond our expectations. The amazing group of experts at BWF will work with you as if they are an extension of your staff.”Cheryl Ann CernyAssociate Vice President for Advancement Operations and Campaign Director • WPI
In addition, the team received an estimate of where FY20 would close and important information to set the goal for FY21 (which WPI met almost to the penny). WPI also plugged in year-to-date totals each month in FY21 so they could see how they were performing against the forecasts. Figures have been entered for FY22 to do the same.
Ultimately, WPI used this vital information to pursue key prospects in certain industries knowing those industries were relatively “resilient” and insulated from the current economic instability. The forecasts provided “guideposts,” allowing the WPI team to understand their monthly progress toward campaign goals and make forward-looking plans. The entire effort proved invaluable, providing the peace of mind and confidence to continue fundraising during the pandemic and provided concrete targets to measure against at such an unpredictable time.