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Sunday, 31 January 2021 14:49

New Year. New Opportunity.

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Whew!  2020 is finally behind us . . . in the rearview mirror. 

But that doesn’t mean we don’t have to occasionally glance back in the rearview mirror.  Glance back on past obstacles and roadblocks and even those harrowing hairpin turns we successfully navigated.

2021 may have gotten off to a rocky start, but we survived 2020.  We’re tough.  We’re survivors.  We got the job done.

Got the job done for our life-changing missions and ministries.  Our missions and ministries were important before the pandemic hit, and as most have demonstrated, even more important than ever. 

But now, it’s time to glance back in the rearview mirror as we continue to steer through 2021 . . . .

In other words, what did we experience in 2020, and how has it made us better fundraisers in 2021 and beyond?

Your organization is important and serves a critical need.  Make sure donors, supporters, staff, and the community know this.  Don’t be afraid to be vulnerable.  Tell the stories.  Ask for resources necessary to support the critical need.  Be proud of who you are and the impact on those you serve.

Technology never goes backwards”, and the same is true for our fundraising.  This is so true.  “I sure miss dial-up internet” said no one ever.  While “Zoom” and virtual connections are here to stay, they will never replace in-person connections.  But we must admit that technology has made much of what we do a bit easier and more accessible.  It certainly has opened our events and meetings to supporters and constituents who might not otherwise have the ability or inclination to participate in-person.  If it works keep doing it. 

A fully engaged board is more important than ever.  Make sure the board knows what you accomplished (not just $$ raised) during 2020, how much more needs to be done, and be specific how their help is needed (and make specific assignments).  The more cheerleaders you have on your team, the more storytellers and advocates, the greater your results.  The more “good” you can do! 

Flexibility is essential.  The “way we were” is in the rearview mirror.  “We’ve always done it this way” is in the past.  Organizations who stepped up, tried new things and new strategies, learned that there are many more ways to accomplish their goals, many that even produce greater results.  The Chinese proverb, “A journey of a thousand miles, begins with a single step” truly sums up how this crazy pandemic forced us to be flexible and take that first step . . . forward.

Connecting with Donors and Supporters can be done.  Many of us experienced the joy in talking with and listening to our donors and supporters, for the first time.  We took the time to “check-in”, to see how the pandemic was affecting them.  We gave back, because it was the right thing to do.  And the concern was appreciated.  Now keep it up.  Keep checking in.  Not just with your majors, but all donors, all supporters, all those who believe in your mission and ministry.  Keep listening.  Keep building those relationships.

Events can be “special” even when not in person.  Over the last year, so many of you shifted to virtual events that are truly “special”.  Laser focused on the mission and the message.  Compelling and inspirational.  All without fancy clothes, big ticket prices, and chicken dinners.  You attracted new attendees, and even raised more money.  Keep doing what works, tweak if necessary.  Keep them “special”. 

Thank You” never goes out of style.  Right now, all organizations, should be thanking donors and supporters for helping them through 2020.  Not their 2020 tax receipt, but genuine thanks.  Because of them, your constituents were fed, clothed, sheltered, cared for, educated, entertained, and inspired.  Make sure you express sincere and frequent gratitude for making it all possible. 

The pandemic is still gripping our community, our country, our world.  The chaos and uncertainty of 2020 is in our rearview mirror.  We struggled, we flexed, we adjusted, we struggled some more, but we came through in one piece.

But there is so much more to do.  Let us take the lessons now in our rearview mirror, and let them help steer our organizations forward so we can continue to serve those who need us the most. 

And remember, “the work you do is important; you are saving lives.”

Read 240 times Last modified on Monday, 01 February 2021 16:06
Janice Fonger

Janice Fonger, is SVP and general manager with J. Milito & Associates a direct response fundraising company. Janice has spent more than thirty years in the nonprofit sector. She has been on the front line, in the development office, in the board room and in the executive director’s chair. She knows organizational operations, board and committee oversight, marketing, finance, program delivery and fundraising in small nonprofits. She rose to the many challenges including creating new annual fundraising strategies, building an endowment during a recession, securing and maintaining needed public and private grant funding, as well as caring for and nurturing donor relationships. She has served on numerous nonprofit boards and is past president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals West Michigan Chapter.

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