Nonprofit Lessons Learned from Year 2020

It goes without saying, the Year 2020 will go down in history as one of the most difficult years in recent history. With a global pandemic that has affected so many lives around the world, humanity has faced harrowing circumstances and had to adapt to what’s being called the “new normal.” Societal change and distancing has altered how people interact, do business, and how our schools educate children. With all of this change, the nonprofit community has also been impacted in terms of how they care for their constituents, how they adjust to social distancing restrictions, and even how they accomplish their day to day mission.

According to a June 2020 survey of nonprofits, Charity Navigator found that “72% of organizations have suffered financially due to the pandemic. Additionally, 54% of respondents have cut back on program services due to the pandemic/economic shutdown. To overcome this disruption and to continue to serve communities, many nonprofits are adapting and innovating.”

The first lesson that has been learned by nonprofits in 2020 is how to turn “handshakes into high technology.” Turning traditional face to face events into virtual events using high tech has been a hard lesson to have to learn. Many charities and organizations have held galas, fun runs, and other events for decades and due to distancing restrictions they have been forced to forego those events or use innovative technology to meet online. Many nonprofits (such as a nonprofit named Upaya) that chose to embrace virtual events have actually grown their audience by going online. As Kate Cochran (CEO of Upaya) said, we made the decision to cancel the in-person Gala and attempt to engage with our donors in a way that might recapture as much of our goal as possible.” According to this blog, “Upaya achieved a 153% Increase in funds raised by reimagining a Virtual Gala” and actually turned their annual gala in only one week to an at-home virtual black tie event. 

The second lesson that has been learned by nonprofits in 2020 is how to turn an “insular face to face community into a virtual internet community.” With social distancing, nonprofits have had to change how they interact with their constituents and community. This has resulted in Zoom check in’s as opposed to door knocks, social media meetings instead of in-person meetings, and virtual announcements in lieu of “bulletin board” announcements. However, going “virtual” can be done! As Every Action’s blog says, “There’s no need to reinvent the wheel – the principles of standard organizing best practices, such as greeting people and making them feel welcome and following up with one-on-ones, still hold true in a technological world. Focus your energy on figuring out how to translate these practices to digital spaces.” Utilizing the age-old principles of caring for localized communities can be translated into connecting online communities when leveraging today’s technology.

The third lesson that has been learned by nonprofits in 2020 is how to turn “direct contact donors into digital donors.” As CauseVox states, “In this climate, it feels like asking for money is out of place and deeply uncomfortable. But most nonprofits are also feeling the impacts of coronavirus, with canceled events, lost revenue, and disrupted programming. Now more than ever it’s important to be able to ask your supporters for a donation to keep your organization strong through this crisis.” Even though there has been an economic downturn, the need for nonprofits is actually amplified during these challenging times. With the lack of direct contact donor asks, it’s now more important than ever to have a digital fundraising strategy (built around email, web, & social asks) that drives donor engagement...virtually.  

For more than two decades, Paperless Transactions has served nonprofits by leveraging technology to connect nonprofits to donors and through their digital marketing agency, CauseDRIVEN Marketing, they have built digital marketing plans that produce results. If your nonprofit needs guidance going into 2021, schedule some time with our team and let’s design a strategy to empower your mission.