5 Nonprofit Trends for 2021

February 1, 2021
15 minutes

“Ready for 2020 to be over?” Silly-and-over-asked question, we know. And yet, we can't stop asking it, talking about it, poking at it. Who knew we'd look forward to small-talking about the weather?

Yep, 2021's a new year, but many of the ways that COVID-19 has impacted our lives will endure well into 2021 and beyond. Not only is working from home the new norm for many of us, but the way we run our businesses needs to continue embracing adaptable elements in order to see results.

Fundraising used to rely on tried and true methods that stayed relatively the same for decades, but a new mindset is required when it comes to actually seeing success this year and beyond. Let’s take a look at five nonprofit trends for 2021 and how you can utilize them to the fullest.

Going Virtual is the New Norm

It’s true that many of us have already integrated video events into our lives as most of us use Zoom or Google Meet to conduct business meetings (as well as social events like happy hours), but if nonprofits are going to take advantage of this type of engagement, it’s going to require something extra.

A recent study by the Goodman Center shed some light on the value of virtual events and gives nonprofits a few hints for finding success. While the study focused on virtual tools in the context of the workplace, it’s still important to note that respondents shared several main concerns:

  • Video meetings take up too much time during the week. If we’re already maxed out on screen time just to get through the workday, it’s going to take an enticing event in order for nonprofits to see people virtually show up.
  • When structure is lacking, a virtual meeting feels like a total waste. Think back to the days of holding nonprofit events in person and consider just how much time and planning went into each soirée. For some causes, you may want to think about your level of organization before you go live.
  • Engagement is the key to success and is often sorely lacking. Getting potential donors to show up to a virtual event is one thing, but actually providing content that’s informative and enticing enough to make them want to contribute is another.

Virtual events may not be a new concept but they are among the most common trends in the nonprofit sector and need to be taken seriously. Even once the pandemic is over, the infrastructure and skills you build now for making the most of virtual events could prove useful, and it’s worth investing in.

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Tap into the Power of Giving Days

Unless you spent most of 2020 under a rock, and honestly we don’t blame you if you did, you’ve likely heard about Giving Days.

In particular, Giving Tuesday donations saw a substantial increase last year and resulted in many nonprofits creating their own days to celebrate generosity. Businesses and nonprofits alike utilized the power of the hashtag to promote their worthy causes and found that they could create a lot of buzz around their efforts when they kept a few tips in mind:

  • We’re all overly busy, so it’s important to plan ahead despite the fact that most of us know that Giving Tuesday is the first Tuesday after Black Friday. #GivingTuesday isn’t always at the front of people’s minds so sending out communication early can make a huge impact on your results.
  • People relate to stories by and large compared to facts and figures. Tools like Funraise Free make this simple with pages you can design yourself and customize to tell your organization’s specific story.
  • Don’t feel disheartened if you’re competing against dozens of other nonprofits in your area on this one day. Some have found that teaming up with others can create a larger impact compared to soliciting donations alone.

If taking advantage of Giving Days is a new concept for your team, start small and consider planning ahead for 2021’s Giving Tuesday. Those who are extra passionate about these types of donation days may want to implement a specific day each month where they encourage people to contribute a small amount to their cause. Funraise Free makes this easy as can be with a monthly recurring donation program that lets your supporters give without having to jump through hoops just to make it happen.


See how Funraise can streamline your donation experience →



Don’t Forget About Younger Generations

All too often, when people think about who’s actually giving money to nonprofits, they’re often targeting older individuals who are able to donate larger amounts and who tend to prefer in-person giving. While these people may be some of your donors, you may be surprised to find that younger generations contribute more than you think.

This year, Gen Z will be entering the workforce in greater numbers than ever before, and though the word still conjures images of latte-drinking college students, the oldest millennials are nearly 40. While they tend to have less disposable income than older generations, these generations now represent the largest chunk of the workforce and the largest consumer segment in the world. How can you appeal to this audience in a way that matters?

  • Younger donors probably aren’t going to mail a check to their favorite charity. Instead, digital fundraising tools can help nonprofits to appeal to this tech-savvy group. Tools that let digital natives use PayPal, Stripe, or Apple Pay are great ways to smooth the giving process and save them a lot of hassle.
  • Younger individuals want to support nonprofits that are transparent in their mission. It’s crucial that your story represents your organization in clear language without trying to slip anything under the radar.
  • Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to donations from Gen Z and millennials. Instead of trying to encourage larger one-time gifts, consider appealing to them from the standpoint of smaller, recurring gifts.
  • Think about how you engage with younger people—they’re consistently more likely to want to interact via social media, email, or through less traditional channels. Consider implementing something like a chatbot to help capture these potential donors.

Tapping into the pool of younger givers is perhaps one of the more logical nonprofit trends for 2021 as COVID-19 has forced many of us to turn to digital tactics anyway. Gen Z and millennials thrive on community, so consider boosting your social media presence as well to stay at the forefront of their minds.

Data Analytics Matter More

Think back to the time when nonprofits received donations via checks in the mail and the tech tools we have today were simply ideas that had yet to come to life.

It’s arguable that their marketing efforts, as well as how they distributed funds, weren’t being exercised to their full potential. There wasn’t always a clear-cut way to capture donor data, but now that’s easier—and more important than ever. The right tools let you track analytics better than ever. Funraise Free has the following benefits:

  • Reports for both individual donors as well as donation types are easy to access, showing you who your target audience is and where you’re finding the most success. These real-time reports are important for shifting your strategies as the year goes on.
  • Instead of randomly choosing where certain donations go, your donation allocation tool can help you to stay organized and on track to meet your goals.
  • Nonprofits who don’t currently have a donor CRM in place won’t need to worry about the extra expense of enrolling in one as Funraise Free integrates the most important aspects of this type of software within an easy to use platform.

As data analytics becomes one of the more prominent trends in the nonprofit sector, organizations need to keep in mind that security is key. Nonprofits aren’t exempt from being targeted by data hackers, making it even smarter to use the right tools instead of trying to develop your own donor website.

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Social Media is Your Friend

Social distancing has led to social media becoming even more impactful than it ever has been, now that the only ways we can safely connect with each other involve Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and other social media platforms.

While some nonprofits might balk at the idea of making a TikTok video, using these platforms is becoming more and more common—and more important. Rather than haphazardly building an online presence, nonprofits should consider a few strategies when it comes to social media:

  • Creating a content calendar is just as important for nonprofits as it is for standard businesses. You’ll also have the ability to really craft your message over time instead of trying to create a social media post on the fly.
  • Building your presence includes posting about more than just your own organization and its goals. Through the use of shareable content, you can start to promote your own hashtags and reach a larger audience when your message is one that people really resonate with.
  • Don’t just post to solicit donations—your audience will want to see where their money actually went. Make an Instagram story that shows the results of your latest project or consider posting a video on Facebook where you virtually interview someone who was directly impacted by your organization’s efforts.
It’s clear now more than ever that social media really does connect all of us, so rather than sticking to more traditional methods of marketing your organization, take some time to really learn these platforms. If you don’t, it’s likely that you’ll soon feel as if you’ve been left behind.

Stay on Top of Trends in the Nonprofit Sector

If there’s one thing that 2020 taught all of us it’s that things can change at a moment’s notice.

Rather than relying on more traditional ways of fundraising, why not make 2021 the year that you embrace these five trends and see just how quickly you get results? Nonprofits looking to revolutionize the way people think about fundraising will find Funraise to be a partner they can rely on for consistent growth that’s easy to achieve.

So... instead of leaving 2020 behind, let's meet 2021 and the progress ahead of us. Together.

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