Looking at you, 2021! Planning Ahead Networking Event

Our January event was “Looking Ahead: Nonprofit Planning for 2021." It was an informal brainstorming session where we broke out into various groups to discuss various topics.

Here are some tidbits from the event! Note: These certainly aren’t all-encompassing ideas, but what we call nuggets of information that will get the idea juices flowing. Please feel free to reach out to connect with us about any questions you might have whether they were mentioned here or not.

Stay tuned for upcoming events by bookmarking our calendar here

DEI (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion) 

What DEI resources have been helpful to your organization? 

  • Trainings from the city of Madison have been really good!

  • YWCA’s Racial Justice Summit

  • Me and White Supremacy by Layla Saad

  • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo

  • 13th, a Netflix documentary

How has your organization continued the momentum and focus of DEI that was there in 2020? 

  • Share what resources have been useful with your team

  • Give space in each meeting to share

  • Shared podcast or video before the meeting, building discussion into recurring meetings

  • Keep bringing it up!

  • Make it policy.

  • Build goals that hold people accountable.

  • Hiring people to focus on this goal.

  • Add it to every meeting. Always.

  • Creating the space to have the conversations.

DEI Program




DEI Meeting
NPD 2019




NPD 2019 Celebration




NPD Luncheon 2019


How have virtual events gone for you so far?

  • Great benefit to virtual is that you have such a larger reach!

  • Can learn so much more about your donors

  • Pivot events into a digital campaign until we can gather again


What was successful for you?

  • Using special cameo as in intro for your event!

  • Most of the event was pre-recorded

  • Do audience interaction/update live during event

  • Having people you support or your behind the scenes staff highlighted during your virtual event is awesome

  • Sponsorship commercials (15-20 max) was a great sponsor benefit for our supporters, and our audience really connected and knew who our sponsors were more than ever before

  • Christine’s Kitchens has been a great partner!

  • Set up snack or dinner boxes as part of your event ticket

  • Have restaurant partners or organization be pick up location

  • Lots of success with livestream events – YouTube Live

  • Hybrid event example:

    • Staff from non-profit delivered meals and capital campaign materials to guests' homes

    • Followed up a few days later to check in 

    • Donations reached their goal


Is there still a need to mention COVID and how it is impacting your organization?

  • Focus on your work, not the gifts:

  • The work we do is needed now more than ever

  • Because of your generosity we have helped more families than ever before

  • No longer blaming COVID, focusing on the need rather than the reasons to give

General Development

How are your fundraising efforts going during Covid?

  • Focusing more and more on DAFs through all of our communication channels, trying to find better ways to identify the best candidates

  • DAFs: Reaching out to tax advisors and financial planners to inform them on the mission and how they might be a good fit for the clients

  • Starting communications with "Thanks to you..." or "Because of you..."... simple things, but keeping it donor-centric. Especially now.

  • Communication through all channels has picked up... maintain a consistent message and repeating is OK

  • Very few donors (according to experience and studies) would be offended by more excessive communication (unless they already gave of course) right now,
    the upside is greater than the downside

  • Continuing to attack digital sphere more than ever... donors turning to those communications as they remain at home

  • Connect, connect, connect... phone call or Zoom personal touch when you can 


What does direct mail look like for you in 2021?

  • Segmenting as much as possible, depending on your org's capabilities

  • Many are continuing to send out similar amount of appeals, both digitally and physically, but focusing on impact of their orgs during COVID over the last year-ish

  • Direct appeals are still an important part of their fundraising, especially with an older audience... no anticipating any sort of drop off








NPD Networking

Donor Relationship

How have you reached out and communicated to donors at this time?

  • Calling donors more often and doing so in lieu of sending other forms of communication. ie birthdays, normally send cards, but have been making calls for more meaningful connection

  • Ad hoc book clubs; send small groups of donors books and then setting up Zoom discussions of the books

What goals have you set/are you setting for building relationships in 2021?

  • Setting monthly and weekly calendar targets to hit x number of meaningful interactions

    • *Question from the group - Is there an industry standard for setting planned giving goals on an annual basis? Like a certain percentage of donor base or a general number?

  • Set the goal that feels right for your organization and make sure you are consistently assessing whether or not those goals are realistic and adjust from there.