As I See It | Missy Gale, CFRE | President & CEO
It’s Time for Scenario Planning
After months of sheltering in place, many businesses in Texas are re-opening in some form or fashion. Nonprofit and for-profit businesses are facing the economic reality of the pandemic. Looking back at lessons learned from previous crises and economic downturns, we hold fast to best practices and adapt them to our current situation.
As for fundraising, I am not sure we will ever return to business as usual.
Some things will be the same. People who are philanthropic will continue to be, in spite of their current financial position. Some things will change. The approaches we use to extend giving opportunities will include video, online, and television, rather than face-to-face communication. And right now, these channels are flooded with a daily barrage of a nation grappling with how to overcome a virus.
What is scenario planning and why is it needed now?
Considering all of the factors above, scenario planning involves taking a realistic look at what changes are likely to occur should things not go the way we plan. Pivoting from face-to-face fundraising activities like events and cultivation tours, to doing the same online will not be enough. Shifting from one form of fundraising to another will not make up for this year’s losses.
Creating a successful development operation
Building a successful development operation means having a robust plan. Each area of fundraising activity should be addressed. Be sure to include a plan for movement from one fundraising level to the next. Look closely at how you are doing in each of the following areas and be ready to make new plans:
- Acquisition – Many organizations have gained new donors while navigating social, e-communications and direct mail. Strategically targeting these efforts with regular, timely content has led to success. Using appropriate and relevant metrics will be important to understanding your results prior to and during the pandemic. Above all, don’t miss the important and intentional work required to move a first-time donor to become a repeat donor.
- Annual Fund – Transitioning to virtual is the first step. Stratifying your donor base and developing specific actionable plans for rising prospects—those closest to the organization—will help to grow the number of individual donors to your organization. In addition, now is the time to introduce relationship management to your board. This shifts board’s focus from giving to events to a peer-to-peer board campaign. This strategic shift will not only raise money, it will demonstrate how the change to direct giving is accomplished.
- Major & Planned Gifts – There is only one question you need to answer—is your organization’s case for support and your menu of giving opportunities updated and ready to go? Your giving opportunities should encompass capital, program, and endowment needs. These items are budgeted for and may include components of the wish list that would be implemented if funded. That is to say, setting aside major or planned giving because the economy is soft is a mistake.
In conclusion, those who can and want to support you need to understand what you need and how that need impacts your mission.
Your longtime supporters, regardless of today’s economy, are still making legacy plans. During times of uncertainty they may be more focused on assuring their estates are planned according to their wishes and interests. However, your job is to listen for the cues of interest and investment while being sensitive to each individual’s position today.