2021… Are we ready?
Like many of you, we have been reflecting on the past year thinking optimistically about the year to come. From visions of getting back on the airplane to having multiple friends over for dinner parties, there is a lot to be excited about. It will also feel frustrating though, to continue through the transitions we will face, and personal hardships we cannot anticipate.
For those of us lucky enough to work with mission-oriented organizations, our continued dedication during this time literally translates to a larger impact. As fundraising leaders, we have major responsibilities across our organizations and communities. Let us take a moment to acknowledge what that means and think about approaching 2021 with intention and fortitude.
With this in mind, we have compiled a few recommendations to help you achieve those possibilities, while acknowledging that this year will likely include its own set of challenges.
- Bring your whole self. People are eager for insights into the personal and professional experiences that helped shape your career and guided your voice.
- Allow your team to do the same. Encourage authenticity and reward it.
- Find new ways to engage with your team; we cannot fill in a “giving meter” or ring the bell with a big win. Those old-skills actions that used to excite the whole office require an upgrade; use technology to recapture that energy and encourage your team to meet your goals.
- Invest in reskilling and upskilling your staff, especially if budgetary requirements have meant working with a leaner team. They will take on new opportunities but need training and advanced education to be successful.
- Network strategically. Schedule time for internal and external connectivity. Focus on developing stronger relationships, not transactional ones.
- Make time for mentoring junior staff and consider reverse mentorship. You will learn new things and build empathy for issues your junior team is facing.
- Reach out to your donors as they may be feeling isolated or unnoticed. Even a quick call will keep you connected, and it will be more powerful than just hearing from you for an end of year gift.
- If your organization has volunteers, find a way to re-engage them, especially with fundraising. Many people are yearning for ways to do more and reconnect.
- Virtual activities are here to stay. Build engagement plans that include them – they are more cost effective than large scale events and can accomplish many of the same goals. Reimagine online galas, outdoor endurance fundraising challenges or other creative initiatives that can drive significant additional revenue.
- Donors have developed more expectations around impact and accountability. Make sure to build fundraising strategies that communicate this.
- Major donors philanthropic priorities may have shifted over the past year. For current donors, talk to them about identifying new opportunities within your organization that might excite them. For prospective donors, determine if your organization now aligns with these new priorities before starting your outreach.
- Develop flexible goals and continue to review and assess progress you have made towards them. Remember to celebrate your wins and learn from any mistakes – we all make them so chalk it all up to growth this year.
- Read and write more. Explore new genres that help your critical thinking skills, help you become a better leader and inspire you in new ways; allow biographies or subject matters to fuel your creative vision of leadership.
- Set aside time for the positive relationships and important causes in your life. This will keep you energized and connected. Effective leaders are deliberate balancers who have learned that you cannot pour from an empty cup.
That being said, whatever you bring, 2021, we are ready for you!