How 2020 Influenced our 2021 Fundraising Trend Predictions — and Why It Matters for Your Success [Part Two]


How and why donors give is changing, and your organization needs to change accordingly. Part two of our fundraising trends series reflects on what we learned in 2020 and how it will impact why donors give throughout the remainder of 2021 and beyond.

  1. Relationships Matter! Moving from Transactional Giving to Transformational Giving
    Political turmoil, racial injustice and a global health crisis dominated 2020, but donors still showed up. Despite the chaos and heartbreak, last year underscored a simple fact: People care deeply about one another. Americans are craving kindness, peace and unity, as illustrated in Jeep’s 2021 Super Bowl ad, “The Middle.”

    Why it matters:
    Donors are people and not ATMs! Donors don’t just give to your organization — they give through it to fix a problem that worries them, to sustain or expand a solution that is important to them, to have a more significant impact on what interests them, and most importantly, to feel they have made a difference.

    Relationships are a two-way street. Show interest in your donors’ desires, research their giving patterns, ask why they give and determine how they are making those gifts. Transformational donors require a donor-centric approach. That means that your fundraising and marketing efforts meet them wherever they happen to be (e.g., social media, conferences, messaging, emails, remote meetings, digital publications, etc.).

    What we’re watching:
    Your donors need to know how much they mean to you. Build a better relationship by utilizing vital cultivation activities, such as:

    • Customized video text messages
    • Personalized donor calls
    • Customized greeting cards with personal notes
    • Text messaging
    • Innovative promotional items — with a shelf life

Humans are social creatures. We crave acceptance, appreciation and a sense of belonging. Gratitude is no less valuable to those who support your mission. It’s vital. It is the attention that builds lasting relationships and drives the results that enable your organization to thrive.

  1. Subscription-Style Monthly/Sustainer Giving
    The “subscription-style” model of giving continues to gain traction, creating a constant revenue stream. These monthly/sustainer givers are reliable every-year donors who make up the foundation of your fundraising strategy. Your donors also benefit from smaller automatic payments, as it’s convenient and helps them feel committed and connected with the nonprofit.

    Why it matters:
    There are subscription services for everything — monthly glam kits, pet treats, meal kits and streaming services, to name a few. Clearly, people are drawn to this type of recurring service. Why not offer this option for donors to give to your organization as well?

    Monthly giving donors stand out because they have higher year-over-year retention rates than your non-sustaining donors after their initial gift. They are much more invested in their gifts’ impact and continue to give more through multiple channels than one-time donors. There has been a steady increase in monthly online giving over the past five years, and in 2019 it increased by 22%. We anticipate this percentage to grow more in 2020.

    What we’re watching:
    The more monthly/sustainers members you can count on, the more predictable your revenue will become. A succinct but compelling story, coupled with consistent communications targeted to these audiences across channels, can make it a reality. Look for new ways to recruit sustaining donors in digital media.

    Our results also show that sustainer programs can lead to Planned Gifts because of the deep loyalty of those who give, repeatedly and often over many years.

  2. Giving Days
    Giving Days keep getting more prevalent in the world of fundraising. It began in 2012 with Giving Tuesday, a simple idea — a day that encourages people to do good. Over the past eight years, it has grown into a global movement that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate and celebrate generosity. Giving days have become increasingly visible, particularly on social media, helping to reach new donors and encourage unrestricted gifts.

    Why it matters:
    In a single day, GivingTuesday 2020 donors in the United States gave $2.47 billion. This was more than all but one U.S. philanthropic foundation gave in a full year during 2019. $808 million of these donations were made online—representing a 25% increase in contributions than the previous year, with 29% more donors participating on top of the more than $503 million raised at an earlier event in May, #GivingTuesdayNow, for pandemic relief. These stats are especially notable considering concerns about donor fatigue due to COVID-19 and other economic issues.

    What we’re watching:
    Many cities, organizations and institutions have created their own custom Giving Days with substantial success. DAF sponsors have even jumped on this bandwagon. How can you incorporate this into your annual plan?

Next week, check back in when we talk about acquisition trends, where donors are and the importance of being flexible in uncertain times.