Lately, there has been a lot of handwringing from non-profit leadership, if you read the non-profit press. Everyone is anticipating a drop in giving from donors who gave more during the height of COVID in 2020 and into the first quarter of 2021.
The latest reports, depending on who you talk with, are saying Q2 of 2021 is starting to see a “leveling off” of donations. Added to that, the unknown factors like how inflation will affect giving, and you have the ingredients to start an anxiety soup.
While we agree that you should take the COVID bump into account for your total revenue forecast, Richard and I urge you not to allow yourself to get mixed up in all that anxiety when it comes to mid-level and major gifts. In those revenue streams, and as a front-line fundraiser who is trying to build one-on-one relationships, your focus should continue to be on serving your donors earnestly.
Remember, what we saw with our clients when the pandemic hit was that donors continued giving, and in most cases, our clients saw an increase in mid and major gift giving. And it wasn’t just because of the pandemic. The reason these donors gave larger gifts was that front-line fundraisers had established solid relationships with their donors. And, when the COVID tragedy hit, those solid relationships caused the donors to respond.
Now, in other revenue streams, we are seeing a leveling off in giving, i.e. an adjustment to the COVID bump. That is always the case when we come out of a disaster or tragedy. And disaster donors don’t renew or give at the same rates as donors that give specifically to the mission of the organization. This has been the case since time began.
However, we are not seeing this in the mid and major gift portfolios of our clients. I just reviewed dozens of results of Q2 reports and everyone is up substantially over last year. We’re talking between 15-40% year-over-year increases so far. And the reason is that in 2020, like no other year, front-line fundraisers connected with donors in profound ways.
If you are not seeing similar results with your mid and major donors, then Richard and I would ask you to examine what your donor portfolio strategy has been over the last 18 months.
Do you have qualified donors in your portfolio? Are they tiered A through C? Do you have a revenue goal and a plan for every donor that matches their passions and interests? Does that plan have at least one touch point per month? Are you thanking properly? Are you reporting on impact in many different ways? Are you connecting with your donors to find out their passions and interests? Are you asking your donors for larger gifts?
You can’t control what happens with pandemics, disasters, inflation, or national tragedies. But what you can control is not allowing those outside influences to affect serving your donors. You may change from face-to-face meetings to Zoom meetings from your kitchen table, or from meeting at galas to texting at 10pm with a donor, but a good fundraiser is always figuring out ways to connect their donor’s passions and interests to the need that the organization is addressing.
If you continue to do that good work, I know your donors will continue to want to engage with you and give at higher levels to address all those needs. Don’t focus on the things you can’t control or let yourself believe that your donors are just going to give less now because the pandemic is waning.
Continue to serve your donors well by matching their interests and passions to the need, and they will respond in amazing ways.