By Kim Fuller
Oh yes, we love lists too. It’s an easy bite to chew on, a quick snapshot of eye candy, a shot of info-tequila to put a sparkle in your eye. But aside from being an easy way to see if you are in the know, lists provide checks and balances to help us keep on task, hit the milestones, and enlighten our ever solicited subconscious mind. So brace yourself for our top-of-the-top trends in philanthropy that will inspire you to percolate new ideas and take action for a new, productive year.
1. Private Sector Relationships
Having friends with deep pockets is important when it comes time for sponsoring events or looking for campaign contributions, but courting the private sector using these short-term hook-ups sometimes leads to disappointment as superficial arrangements often come with an expiration date. 2020 is the decade for creating meaningful relationships with the right people. It is really about self-care. If you surround your organization with committed caring businesses only good things will come out of the relationship. It is a win-win situation for both parties. It is worth your time and investment to research the appropriate private sector partners that share your values, nurture those relationships, and develop a common long-term goal that offers benefits for all. By taking the lead, the philanthropic sector will encourage the wave of generosity that traditional corporations are slowly realizing makes a significant difference in work culture and employee satisfaction. It is time to get out there and start networking in a whole new way!
2. Diversifying Income Streams
It is a common refrain. We can’t afford it, we don’t have the budget, we didn’t get the grant, our fundraising objectives were not met. Always, money, or the lack thereof, is at the crux of every non-profit’s existential dilemma. The new decade can offer new possibilities; can we make a sector-wide shift from simply surviving to absolutely thriving? Yes but part of that change will come from looking at other ways you can bring in money to further your mission. Take it from our client Petites Mains, a Montreal-based non-profit, earning income by selling goods and services is a healthy way to keep the organization alive and vibrant. By offering immigrant women a chance to learn a new skill needed for the job market, improve their French language skills, and get the support they need to be better members of society, this organization has accomplished a lot over its 25 years in existence. It is thanks in part to the revenue earned through industrial sewing contracts, catering services, and business services, that it has earned a place in the forefront of innovative non-profit organizations. By including a social enterprise element into your organization, you can generate a new income stream, attain your mission in an innovative way, and garner support from unlikely allies in your new “business” venture.
3. Knowing Your Donors and Offering Personalized Giving Options
In the new decade, non-profits will start seeing that more and more donors want to be agents of change. The era of simply writing cheques with little to no interaction is behind us. Giving options need to be more personalized: donors want to participate in making a change in society and they want to see the tangible effects of their contribution.
By getting to know your donors better you can target your messaging and offer relevant giving options that will resonate with donors and incentivize them to give to your cause. Segmenting your donor base and creating targeted messages is becoming increasingly more important. Whether through personalized emails or offering customized video rewards, one key point remains: giving needs to be easy and quick. Thoroughly auditing your website and social media channels is an easy first step in evaluating the “ease of doing business” with your organization. These are the first points of contact potential donors have with you, it is worth reviewing how easy the process is for making a donation, getting in contact with you, and how engaging your communications really are.
4. Optimizing Now: Harnessing Vital Tools, From Data to Analytics
Are the tools your organization uses optimized and working for you to their fullest potential? In 2020, it is essential that charities become data-driven and make use of software and other tools that will make it easier to focus on what’s truly important: developing, maintaining and managing relationships. Data is a powerful tool for charities and it should not be overlooked. Like Paul Ruben at Charity Digital News says, “it can help campaigns become more successful, it can ensure projects have more impact, and it can be used to make a strong case to funders for new services and initiatives”. Artificial intelligence and data analytics are also critical tools to help build unique donor profiles and target them with personalized messages to make giving easier than ever before. That being said, it is difficult to harness the power of AI and data effectively and well so consider the added value an expert could bring to your organization. Start exploring, build the case for your board and get on with it!
5. Beyond Benefits: Showcasing Other Advantages, an HR Challenge
There is a labour shortage and the charitable sector is feeling it hard. Where most charities can’t offer huge salaries like the corporate world, they can offer other incentives that are arguably just as important to attract and retain talent. Often overlooked, an organization’s values and philosophies can be an important factor for talent attraction and retention. People are increasingly looking to work at companies or organizations whose values align with their own. Non-profits need to make sure that their hiring practices and marketing elevate and reflect their cause and unique social culture.
Equally as important is to place an emphasis on collective well-being. Introducing a flexible working conditions or a four-day working week results in increased motivation, productivity and better work-life balance. For instance, here at Phil, our sick days are called “wellness days” placing the focus on preventive rather than reactive self-care. Well into the 21st century, it is clear that the way we work has changed. In this new decade, let’s take the lead on reflecting that change. Talk to us about planning a corporate culture workshop, reviewing your hiring practices or improving your internal communication channels.
The horizon ahead
Non-profit organizations will have to step up their game and rise to meet donors’ expectations. Gone are the days of passively pushing out letters and waiting for cheques to roll in during annual campaigns. The only way you can afford to implement new practices, is by letting go of old ones that no longer yields results, and drain the organization of potential. By nurturing more personal relationships and making strategic changes to practices long-held as gold standards, the future will be bright for those willing to embrace the forward-thinking ethos of the new roaring 20’s.
Kim Fuller is Founder & CEO of Phil, a consulting and marketing agency for non-profits, based in Montreal and Toronto.