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Top 5 Digital Fundraising Predictions for 2021 (#5)

Prediction #5: Migrating to a digital-first mindset

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. Give it a read and let me know your thoughts!

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Prediction #5: Migrating to a digital-first mindset

Think about the way your organization is currently structured and how it has weathered the past year. When it comes to investments in the digital space, are you underweight? My guess is the overwhelming answer to that question is yes.

One bright spot of 2020 was the forced acceleration of nonprofits shifting their focus, budget and attention to all things digital. Aided by the ubiquity of digital tools, and comfort level with them, we are at the beginning of a groundswell of change.

Forward-thinking leadership have recognized the shift. More importantly, many of our donors have made the shift and some will not be going back. Giving online was up 32% in 2020 - I think that number is going to go up even further this year.

Digital Data Points FTW

There is a wealth of data within your CRM and new data points appear every day on your communication channels. Are you using this to inform future strategy, replicate past successes and correct for underperformance?

When you think about your audience of prospective donors and current donors, do you know their preferred communication channels? Who gives just by direct mail? Email? Social media, both paid and organic? What channels are best for acquisition? Which ones work well for retention efforts?

Are you leveraging the information that your audience is providing to get them closer to conversion?

Adopt a Growth Mindset

The good news is that there are cost-effective tools, available to all organizations, that can help. Google Analytics is a must-have, but it’s just the first step. Are you using UTMs to measure channel performance? Have you set up goals or conversions within Google Analytics to identify which of your outreach methods hit their KPIs consistently?

Is Facebook Pixel installed so you can remarket to those prospective donors who are one step away from making a gift? Are you curious about where in your marketing funnel your prospective donors are getting stuck?

Take some time to review the free training offered by Google Analytics, Facebook Blueprint or Google Garage and you can start to answer these questions. Once you feel comfortable, continue pulling at this thread and think about what other answers would be valuable to your organization.

Chances are, there’s a way to get to the bottom of those questions and this exercise is valuable to help you identify where opportunities for improvement lie.

Data, and the tools that help us sift through it, only gets you halfway. Does your organization have staff who understand how it all fits together? In a few years, digital engagement divisions embedded within nonprofits will be just as common as prospect research teams or gift processing units.

Staff who can operationalize these insights are worth their weight in gold - hire them, retain them and your organization will reap the benefits.

Digital Is Here to Stay‍

Organizations that made investments in the digital space are well-positioned to have a successful 2021. Your donors, and their attention, are online. Digital fundraising is not a niche, it’s fundraising and relationship-building at scale.

If you made it to the end of this article, you’re part of a group thinking about the next practices in this space. Maybe you agreed with some of my predictions, maybe you think I’m off base! Either way, let’s connect (on LinkedIn or Twitter) and continue to move this conversation forward.

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The digital decade of philanthropy is here, are you ready for it?

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