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Four fundraising trends to expect in 2021

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If there’s one thing we’ve learned in 2020, it’s that we can only ever truly expect the unexpected. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has completely altered how we work, play, relax, and of course, it’s completely changed fundraising trends as we’ve known it. Gone are the days of massive galas, silent auctions, and in-person donor appeals, at least for now. 

No matter how severely the ongoing pandemic has impacted your plans, your next step should always be looking ahead at fundraising trends. As fundraisers, creativity and forward-thinking are big parts of the role, no matter what challenges your organization faces on its own or as part of a global crisis. 

In this post, we’ll be taking a look at some of the top fundraising trends to watch out for—and try for yourself—in 2021.

#1: Continue to plan for virtual events.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cancel events beyond 2020 and into the beginning of next year, it’s safe to assume that in-person events will be on hold through the next year or possibly even longer. With galas, auctions, and other fundraising events being postponed, your team will likely need to shift to—and embrace—virtual events instead.

There are several ways you can approach virtual events depending on your donor market and your organization’s setup. Here are a few ideas to help you get the wheels turning:

  • Invite donors to a virtual tour. If you’re fundraising for a historical society, art museum, or some sort of other attraction, setting up a virtual tour is one of the easiest things you can do to gain funding. To start, you’ll need to gather good quality footage of your space, upload it to your website, and either use a paywall to guard access or use a pop-up to encourage visitors to make a donation while they enjoy their virtual tour. Remember, anytime you’re seeking suggested donations, it’s a good idea to clearly explain how those funds contribute to your nonprofit’s longevity.
  • Host an online gala. Just because your in-person gala is postponed until further notice, doesn’t mean you have to give up on your annual tradition altogether. This year, embrace the cozy comforts of home by hosting a virtual one. Encourage participants to dress up, send out gift cards from local restaurants with your entrance fee, and enjoy videos, breakout chat rooms, entertainment, and conversation just like you would at your live event.
  • Go live with workshops and webinars. As a charitable organization, odds are you have a lot of knowledge to share with the public. Whether you can speak to natural history, art history, preservation, or politics, your existing and potential donors are eager to hear your expertise. Make your workshops and webinars more accessible than ever by broadcasting them on Facebook or Instagram Live, and don’t forget to include a few donor appeals throughout your program.

#2: Give peer-to-peer fundraising a try.

With the holiday season coming up in full swing, it’s time to really focus on your fundraising efforts. What’s so special about the holidays is that many people are in a grateful and giving mood, which opens the door for a lot of new opportunities to find new funds and new donors. One way to do this is with peer-to-peer fundraising, which is perfect for seasonal giving, like Giving Tuesday, for example.

With peer-to-peer fundraising, you can set up a competitive platform where donors can sign up, share their link with friends, and compete with other donors. Not only is this a great way to motivate participants to spread the word, but it’s also a good alternative for individuals who’d rather put their holiday gifts toward charity this year!

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#3: Market tax advantages to donors.

One of the many unfortunate outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic is the financial struggles so many Americans are currently facing due to job loss and medical bills. With more financial hardship this year than year’s past, it may be more challenging to secure donations now than ever before. However, as a charitable organization, your donors may be able to claim tax deductions that’ll reduce how much they owe in taxes for the 2020 season. You can leverage your tax status to help encourage donors to make monetary or gift donations to your organization. Just remember to provide receipts and clearly explain the tax rules for giving.

#4: Allow virtual fun runs to take place of 5K events.

If 5Ks, bike races, and annual group hikes are your organization’s main source of funding, you might be feeling a little discouraged with the happenings of the year, but don’t count out your traditions just yet! Thanks to GPS tech, peer-to-peer fundraising platforms, and social media engagement, you can still have your athletic events while adhering to health and safety mandates.

Start by registering participants online with an entrance fee and fundraising goal to be obtained through your peer-to-peer platform. Once they’ve met their goal, they can go for a run, bike, walk, or hike outdoors or from the safety of their home gym within a specified timeframe. Tell participants to record and submit their time using an app like Strava. Then, once participants have all been accounted for, you can announce winners and prizes!

Not only does this event give people hunkering down something fun and positive to do, but it also allows them to do it at their leisure and within their comfort zone.

Key takeaways

There’s no question this year’s fundraising efforts will look different than ever before, but that shouldn’t derail your important efforts completely. Get creative, think about your audience and your resources, and get to planning!

Whether you host a virtual fun run, a gala from the comfort of your own home, or an online workshop, remember how much support and knowledge you have to give your community…and flaunt it! Stay connected with new and former donors, and make it a point to express your gratitude no matter how big or small the gift.

We hope these tips help! Make sure to subscribe to the Candid Learning blog to stay on top of the latest trends and news from the nonprofit world. And if you’re interested in learning more about how you can take advantage of 2021 fundraising trends, consider joining Candid’s webinar, “Top Fundraising Trends to Capitalize on in 2021” on Wednesday, January 20.


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