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Top 5 Digital Fundraising Predictions for 2021 (#1)

Updated: Nov 24, 2022

Prediction #1: 2021 = The Year of the Donor Journey

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital engagement and fundraising tactics for all nonprofits. How do you sift through what has staying power and what is a flash in the pan? Our team put together a list of our predictions on where digital fundraising is headed in 2021.

2020 felt like a sprint and a never ending time loop at the same time. The lines between personal and professional life blurred together, sometimes in hilarious ways. We became Zoom experts (well, not all of us) and then got Zoom fatigue.

For nonprofits, it was a year of tremendous change and challenges. Traditional engagement tools like in-person events were non-options and many organizations struggled to navigate operating in the digital space.

Looking forward to 2021, it's clear that many of these changes accelerated by the pandemic are here to stay. With finite resources, nonprofit organizations need to be strategic about where they apply time and money. Going back to the way things were is not an option, so where should advancement shops direct their focus?

I took a leap and came up with my top five predictions for digital fundraising in 2021. Each prediction is its own blog post - give them all a read and let me know your thoughts by connecting with me on LinkedIn, Twitter or at!

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Prediction #1: 2021 = The Year of the Donor Journey

A culture shift is happening across the philanthropic industry. Many leaders are searching for a new approach to annual giving, especially when it comes to how they market their appeals. 2020 was a tough year across the board for donor participation and dollars.

Big problems need bold solutions. That’s why I’m anointing 2021 as the year of the donor journey. Organizations cannot run out the same playbook of appeals year after year and expect different results. Our donors are too savvy for this type of approach. To fix it, start by focusing on your donor’s experience.

I’ve already talked about the donor journey at length (link to #NoColdAsks series), but it can be boiled down to a few key points.

Donor Journey Starting Points

First, don’t make assumptions for your audience. You know all of the amazing things that your organization does, and wants to do, with donations. Have you shown this to your constituents? Do they know your goals and ambitions? Have you come to a mutual understanding about why you are reaching out and asking for money?

Second, are you asking them to think about their role and participation in your mission? Can they answer your “Why” questions based off of your solicitations? Are you giving them compelling reasons and stories of impact to answer those questions?

Finally, are you using data on donor intent to capitalize and make the right ask, at the right time for your donors who migrated through your marketing funnel? What does your integrated digital channel strategy look like? Are you leveraging the digital data points at your disposal? Are you allocating budget towards paid ad campaigns to provide lift?

Map Your Donor Journey

For each of these stages, try mapping out what your prospective donor’s journey looks like. What touch points exist along this continuum? How are you carrying key messaging throughout? Where are the conversion points and who in your organization is going to be responsible for executing on them?

By the end of this, you should have a framework to structure your work that will ensure you’re making #NoColdAsks.

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