It’s hard to believe we are already two months into 2021. Does it feel any different than 2020 did for you? For many nonprofits, this year represents a mingling of peer-to-peer fundraising tactics– some tried and true from those pre-pandemic days with a few fresh takes hatched over the last nine months. Want to see if you are on the right track or gain some inspiration as you plan out the year? Keep reading today’s blog because we scoured the internet and grabbed all the best stats and trends to help you navigate the upcoming year.
I love interior design. It’s nothing but drool-worthy living rooms, picture-perfect bedrooms, and stylized mood boards on my Pinterest page. Well... That and food. I really like to cook too. This time of year, I find that many of my favorite artists, designers, and bloggers start rounding up the trending items and making predictions. I see things like:
And I love it.
You see, these posts help me realize what I had already noticed, confirm my suspicions, and open my eyes to be on the lookout for the next thing. They also make sense as to why suddenly, I am craving pasta or thinking about painting my kitchen black, when I would have NEVER considered it before. These posts help me understand how the consumer is going to be influenced, whether they like it or even realize it.
I find the same to be true with fundraising.
Consumer behavior continues to evolve, and your supporters are looking for a special something, whether you or they even know it yet. That’s why I rounded up some of my favorite predictions, statistics and emerging trends below so we can be prepared for what is likely to happen or reconsider what we have previously done, in case it needs to be re-imagined. Look and let me know which of these predictions you find most interesting.
1. Volunteering time for peer-to-peer fundraising goes digital
Forced to socially distance themselves or follow stay-at-home mandates, individuals around the world leaned into volunteering their time, energy, and skills with peer-to-peer fundraising. While having hands-on-deck was critical to mobilize food to those in need, the North Texas Food Bank supporters also raised almost $100,000 leveraging peer-to-peer fundraising technology. More than $20,000 was raised by employees of a tech company, and over $24,000 raised by a local photographer. The campaign encouraged individuals to virtually fundraise their own way and grew in popularity with over 60 personal pages created and 1,200 gifts made. This existing form of engagement took on a whole new level as supporters volunteered their time, talent and networks to help raise money for a cause they are passionate about, all without leaving their mobile screens.
“Our supporters can customize their page to their liking. This allows them to connect their own beliefs to our mission and their personal fundraising pages become a way for them to express their story to others. It generates brand awareness and allows new supporters to get connected to the important work we do at the North Texas Food Bank.” —Lexi Kay, Annual Campaign Manager
2. Gen Z is waiting for you this year
This is the first generation that has grown up entirely in the digital world. Even better, they are entering their mid-twenties and their propensity to give is on the rise. They are diverse, inclusive and eager for connections. According to Big Sea, “most social scientists believe Gen Z to be the most socially conscious generation yet. If they believe in you, they’ll become loyal members and contributors.”
So how do you “factor them in” to your annual plan? Consider this tip from Business Insider: “To capture a piece of this growing cohort, retailers and brands need to start establishing relationships with Gen Zers now. But Gen Zers are different from older generations, because they are the first consumers to have grown up wholly in the digital era. They’re tech-savvy and mobile-first — and they have high standards for how they spend their time online.” To acquire this audience, you must first meet them where they are and provide value in the best way they will receive it. This may mean expanding your online presence to new platforms or to diversify your engagement tactics. It could mean targeting them for a modest sustaining giving program (think $10/mo) with membership perks that speak to them. Perhaps you conduct a survey or leverage grassroots efforts. If you are not sure where to start, take a listen to our recent webinar on Learning from Gen Z.
3. Giving days are here to stay
Giving days are considered a time-specific event (traditionally, 24-hours) where you channel your audience to engage both online and offline in hopes of achieving your fundraising goal. While this event type has been on the rise with nonprofits (hello GivingTuesday and its year-over-year growth), we expect its digital engagement and sense of urgency to continue in popularity, with nonprofits shifting from one giving day a year to two giving events (think GivingTuesday and a Founding Day or national holiday in line with your mission). We also expect these 24-hour challenges to extend. For some, it may be a giving week and for others (like Breast Cancer Awareness Month) extend to multiple weeks.
“One of the most interesting trends during the pandemic in terms of revenue has been the consistent overperformance of community giving days. In reviewing data from both dozens of individual giving days as well as larger calls to action like #GivingTuesdayNow, the reality is clear: Communities, nonprofits and individuals will continue to benefit from having a focused day to generate excitement around the work they are passionate about.” – Tim Sarrantonio of Neon One
4. Hybrid events are on the rise
The P2P Fundraising Forum surveyed 100 nonprofits with half saying they would continue with virtual-only events in 2021. Another one in four said they planned to host hybrid programs, which combine elements of in-person and virtual events. While we are all eager to get back to in-person events (and fundraising results), keeping overhead costs low and participation types varied helps ensure participants feel safe and you can hit your goals. For any upcoming event, my #1 recommendation is to make sure you have some type of virtual participation available. Best case scenario, you can “upgrade” them to an in-person attendee when it is safe to do so.
5. Not enough attention is paid to mid-level donors
Peer-to-peer fundraising is a great avenue for mid-level donors. For the record, high-level donors are great candidates for P2P too…They make a highly effective candidate pool for matching gifts in your giving day challenges, but let’s stay focused, shall we? If your mid-level donors are not a part of your sustaining giving program and are not participating in your peer-to-peer program, we recommend you consider a few ways to woo them into one. Once you have found your audience, customize your appeal and play around with what is the most effective. Promoting peer-to-peer fundraising pages with them to not only self-donate but reach out to their communities (who may have a similar propensity to give) with help increase your overall averages and retain the audience by diversifying their engagement.
“One of the most astonishing things we’ve found in our digital marketing to these high-value audiences is that just a very small lift in performance among them can yield significant increases in revenue. And, unfortunately, the reverse is also true—what seems like a minor drop-off in your mid-level acquisition or retention rates can create enormous drag on your revenue.” –Sarah DiJulio and Yoonhyung Lee
6. Video is the new copy
“People want access, authenticity, and transparency. Use video to lift the veil on your work. In this same vein, people prefer to interact with amateur content than super polished and posed accounts.” – Julia Campbell, Nonprofit Digital Marketing Consultant
According to HubSpot’s 2020 State of Marketing report, video beat out heavyweight contenders like email, blogging, and infographics as the most used type of marketing content. If COVID-19 did not force your organization to embrace video both operationally and supporter-facing, then now is the time to turn on your phones and press record.
Hot tip: If your peer-to-peer fundraising solution allows, consider embedding video on a campaign page or streaming live on a personal fundraising page for extra impact.
7. Digital ad programs are filling in the gap
For years we have heard that texting is an antidote to low email engagement (in fact, 75% of consumers are now saying they are comfortable receiving texts from brands), but it’s not an either/or situation. Email continues to be an effective communication tool. The real power is when you leverage email for ongoing communications, texting for urgent appeals, and digital ads to seek your disengaged supporters. If you are struggling to get proper inbox placement or find disappointing results for some of your segments, consider these ideas for digital ads and how they can help you engage with more people while spending less money or leverage ads to target supporters who have visited your campaign but failed to donate.
BONUS: Those who come out on top are the ones who didn’t stop
Alright.. This is not actually a new trend, but it is still worth mentioning. In March of 2020, we saw many nonprofits just freeze. Rightfully so, they were moving their office home, starting kids with virtual learning, and canceling events. But after the shock of it all settled in, it seemed that organizations adjusted and started campaigning with relevance or held off altogether.
We were reminded that people don’t give because they are generous. They give because they are asked. Ben Miller in his AFP article Charitable Giving in Times of Fear and Uncertainty says that “if we look at what happened during the Great Recession, giving to nonprofits remained steady, with only slight declines over the entire period.” He continues: “When the current crisis ends, history will show that the most successful nonprofits continued to ask for donations, although likely in a different way. Those nonprofits who go ‘silent’ or attempt to give their donors a break will likely see the same results as others before them — and suffer or even go out of business as a result.”
Don’t forget to change your copy and boldly make the ask. There is too much at stake not to.
What trends or inspiring ideas have you seen? Share them in the comments below!