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Key Adjustments Every Nonprofit Can Make Moving Into 2021

Key Adjustments Every Nonprofit Can Make Moving Into 2021

by Bill High

While 2020 could easily be called the year of the pandemic, 2021 might well become the year of adjustment. Every nonprofit has already  had to make changes, but there’s more to be done.

At the onset of the pandemic, let’s face it—uncertainty had us gripping the steering wheel tight. But as the road became a little less frightening, nonprofits began to loosen their hands a bit. And while some have seen great generosity and real growth, others have not.

Now, even while vaccinations are being given to the first groups in the U.S., there is still plenty of uncertainty. We don’t how long the impact of the pandemic will stretch on. And an incoming administration has nonprofits wondering how new policies may affect them.

What should the wise nonprofit leader do to adjust to these shifting conditions?


7 Adjustments to Consider for 2021

The Chronicle of Philanthropy aptly titled their November 2020 issue as “Fundraising in Tumultuous Times.” Within that issue are several key adjustments that every nonprofit can consider making in 2021:

  1. Major donors and major gifts will still need to be a point of emphasis. Job losses and the 2017 Tax Law did much to impact the small to mid-size donor. Major donor relationships continue to need to be at the forefront.
  2. While virtual events can work, there’s still nothing like being in person. Virtual events will continue to evolve and improve, but there’s still nothing like having a person’s full attention at an in-person event.
  3. Watch expenses. Cut expenses. Enough said.
  4. Remain hopeful. Charitable giving remains one of the great opportunities for change in the world. Charitable giving is one of the great change agents because, unlike private investment capital, charitable investments can remain patient while waiting and looking for impact.
  5. Scenario planning. Nonprofits must plan for multiple scenarios. I know of one nonprofit that was planning for 16 scenarios—with 16 courses of action—based upon the differing circumstances.
  6. Real estate reduction. One of the things the pandemic environment taught us was that we could do with less real estate; virtual is OK. Now could be the time to address whether your nonprofit could reduce its real estate footprint as expense reduction.

A seventh big area to address is my own idea: prioritizing a nonprofit foundation or reserve account. We’ve seen more nonprofits set up donor advised funds as a way to reach out to major donors about growing reserve and endowment accounts. Now is the time to grow those foundation accounts.

Any other advice or changes you will be making? I’d love to hear from you.



Photo by Headway on Unsplash

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Published January 1, 2021

Topics: Nonprofit Development

Charitable GivingDonor Advised FundsFundraisingMajor DonorsNonprofit DevelopmentNonprofits

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