Clearly, 2021 was a year of disruption and changes. And yes, we were forced to change, innovate, and adapt – over and over.
But within change, there are always mega opportunities. Here’s our annual review of trends and new opportunities that we see on the horizon for 2022.
Trend 1. Giving Will Follow the Soaring Stock Market.
As long as the U.S. stock market is surging, we will continue to see robust giving. Research studies have demonstrated over and over that philanthropy is closely correlated to the stock market.
2021 saw an increase in the entire scale of giving – especially from major donors who are making transformational gifts.
With the growing wealth in the U.S., these huge gifts continue to be available to more and more nonprofit capital campaigns.
Trend 2. We Are in the Golden Age of Major Gift Fundraising.
Yes, this is the Golden Age of major gift fundraising. Again, as long as the stock market is high, we will continue to see significant major gift opportunities.
During the pandemic, we saw a consistent flow of extraordinary generosity from donors. Our capital campaign clients saw new donors pop up and landed surprisingly large gifts with relative ease. One campaign even reached its entire goal early in the campaign’s silent phase.
If your organization is not investing in major gift expertise and training, you will miss out on a significant flow of major and transformational gifts to support your work.
Trend 3. Upending the old Traditional Capital Campaign Strategies.
Capital campaigns are our specialty. Between us, we’ve led or coached over 65 campaigns during our careers. Not many people around have that level of experience.
So believe us when we say there is a shorter, easier, and more efficient way to reach a capital campaign goal.
We are recommending a dramatic change away from the traditional “Silent Phase” and “Public Phase” of a capital campaign. In fact, we suggest eliminating the public phase of a capital campaign altogether. (!)
It’s possible to reach your campaign goal quickly – even in the campaign’s Silent Phase – if you use the Campaign by the Numbers approach to systematically close major and principal gifts.
Then, there is no need to embark on a laborious, costly Public Phase. It’s possible to reach and even exceed your dollar goals, without spending energy for the Public Phase.
Trend 4. Donor-Advised Funds: Missing Out on “Sleeper” Major Gift Prospects in DAF’s
Each year, more donors are creating and giving from their Donor Advised Funds (DAF’s).
When a donor gives via a DAF, it’s an important indicator that this donor is a major gift prospect. It means that the donor actually has philanthropic money set aside for giving. It should send out a loud alert signal to the fundraising team.
But what happens? Alas, too many fundraising programs are not realizing that a DAF gift = Important Major Gift Prospect.
The team is missing a major opportunity because they may not recognize the major gift prospect here, properly acknowledge the gift, or optimize their follow up.
Trend 5. Pressure on Philanthropy to Wake Up
With all the emphasis on racial and social justice, many foundations and institutional funders are finally waking up.
They are realizing that far too much funding tends to go to well-connected name-brand organizations.
Organizations led by persons of color, those that serve rural and marginalized communities receive a disproportionate share of overall grant funding.
The pressure is now on institutional funders, who are sitting on billions of endowed funds, to provide more than lip service to issues of equity.
Trend 6. Donors Want to Stay in their Favorite Armchair
Oh my, what will we do without the incessant entertaining, lunches, and committee meetings that we major gift fundraisers have relied on for decades?
Answer: we will master our virtual, digital meeting techniques. We are learning how to do it all over Zoom: the initial connections with donors, nurturing their interest and passion for our causes, and even asking for six and seven-figure gifts – all online.
Yes, it can be done, and our clients are doing it every day.
Trend 7. Hybrid Events and Meetings
Now that everyone is so comfortable doing business from home, wearing slippers and sweats, it looks like this change may be permanent. At least it will be for many donors who would prefer not to go out.
So, mastering the art of a hybrid event, meeting or gala will be a skill all fundraising teams must learn.
It’s certainly not easy, and we all have more to learn about how to nail this – but it’s something we cannot avoid.
Trend 8. Emphasis on a Supportive Work Environment
In the midst of the Great Resignation and the hottest market for fundraisers in years, organizations are being forced to reckon with the awful work environment in many nonprofits.
We’ve said it for years, “don’t carry out your mission on the backs of your employees.”
Your dedicated staffers are a valuable resource. And, they deserve reasonable compensation, flexible hours when possible and supportive bosses. Self-care will be a major theme for 2022.
Trend 9. Technology Opens the Door to New Passionate Donors.
We are stunned at the data from our clients’ wealth screenings. For our capital campaign clients, we are identifying brand new prospects who are deeply committed – and have high wealth indicators.
For one client, we suggested that they make a cold call on a certain donor we had found in the screening report.
The donor turned out to be very enthusiastic about the organization and its work. And she made a 6-figure gift right on the spot. You can do this too.
Trend 10. Nonprofits Keep Missing Connections with Their Donors
Over and over, we see donors who are wildly passionate about their favorite causes. These generous benefactors care deeply and are primed to give generously.
But unfortunately, their favorite nonprofits insist on treating them like a grocery store or bank.
Nonprofit messages continue to be about money, money, money. Even worse, the messages all say, “we are so great, you should support us because we are smart and hard-working.”
Even after all the talk about Donor-Centered fundraising in the past 15 years, very little has changed. Most nonprofit communications continue to NOT be donor-centered – and miss a huge opportunity to open their donors’ hearts.
BOTTOM LINE: Fundraising Trends for 2022
There are a lot of opportunities hidden within a disrupted environment. Smart institutions will be opportunistic, agile, and creative – and they’ll see tremendous success.
Follow these fundraising trends for 2022 and seize the opportunity!
As always, it is a pleasure to share our weekly insights with you as we cover important fundraising strategies.
If your organization is planning a capital campaign or expanding your major gifts program – we can help. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to schedule a free strategy call with us.