This short report breaks down how community-based nonprofits, like the organizations that largely comprise the Thread community, or our “Spool” as we like to call it, fare against broader trends and best practices during the all-important end-of-year (EOY) giving season
When you fundraise for a small or community-based nonprofit, there’s so much work to be done that a familiar mantra becomes that of Dory, the amnesiac fish in the 2003 film Finding Nemo: “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming, oh oh oh oh!”
And yes, truly, you do need to keep on swimming to get the work done.
However, if you blindly follow Dory and just keep swimming without assessing your surroundings, you’ll end up in a deep dark trench chased by a hungry anglerfish.
While Dory’s innocent good luck gets her out of that predicament, for you, small nonprofit fundraiser, the Thread team is pleased to throw out a buoy: the 2020 Spool to Sphere Comparison.
This short report breaks down how community-based nonprofits, like the organizations that largely comprise the Thread community, or our “Spool” as we like to call it, fare against broader trends and best practices during the all-important end-of-year (EOY) giving season.
We’ll be hosting a webinar on Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 2pm EST to talk over the report’s key takeaways – register to join us to discover all the juicy details!
Until then, we want to encourage you and bolster you with a few select reminders from the Spool to Sphere Comparison:
* Don’t let up on asking your community for help and steward your donors like your life depends upon it (because it does). Despite and because of the pandemic, 2020 was actually a very strong year for fundraising. The key drivers of that success were small and mid-level donors who responded enthusiastically because they were asked to give. And then in many cases, they gave again because they were stewarded, appreciated, and connected to their impact.
* You’re doing better at digital than you give yourself credit for, and continuing investment on this front is worth it. The digital world is huge, complex, and ever evolving. The effect on small nonprofit fundraisers and staff is that we feel like total amateurs in a room of experts. However, experience from our Spool indicates that small nonprofits ARE seeing good returns with their digital fundraising at EOY. You are not a digital doofus, but a digital doer. BUT, you do need to make a point of investing, learning, and pushing yourself to keep getting better.
* Digital is important, but not everything. Multi-channel outreach is important, gets noticed, and yields results. As more and more of life is controlled by algorithms and automation, there’s a key point about fundraising we all need to remember: People give money. Computers don’t. So, while you’re getting better at your digital fundraising, don’t abandon efforts that connect you with your community in other or offline ways. Donors are multifaceted, dynamic, and complex people, and they respond better to fundraising that acknowledges them as such.
* You get no credit for staying out of people’s inboxes. You need to communicate more often than you have been. Nonprofit people have the reputation of being nice. We care. We try deliberately to be considerate of others. However, these noble impulses may also be negatively impacting fundraising performance. The majority of your community is not thinking about you if you are not regularly inviting them to (and they aren’t giving if not asked!). Small nonprofits need to embrace this noisy attention economy in which we all live and strive to continuously and compellingly invite their community to tune into what they have to say.
* Virtual events were a mixed bag, but they are here to stay. Across the nonprofit sphere, the jury is still really out on what to think about and do with virtual events. Thread’s take on virtual events is to approach them with the same exacting scrutiny and realism you would an in-person event. Events, no matter the format, are always a heavy lift, so whether a virtual event is a good idea for your organization is a question only you can answer.
We hope to see you on Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 2pm EST to talk more. All webinar attendees will receive a full copy of the final report!