By Jake Wilson, TPF Relationship Manager
As the age-old cliché inquires, “Where on Earth has the time gone!?” It feels as if the New Year’s fireworks have just faded out into the night sky, and now we have already been catapulted past the halfway point of 2022. Also, they say time flies when you’re having fun, but so far, this year has not been fun for a lot of folks out there. I think we are all attempting to catch our breath, while also doing our best to stomach this wild ride the current geopolitical events and financial markets have forced us to endure. However, despite all of this, life goes on, and the pages of the calendar continue to turn.
I have noticed that nonprofit institutions—who are largely dependent on the generosity of donors—have particularly been affected by this complicated world as of late. As times continue to change at a rapid rate, so too must our organizations in an effort survive and thrive.
After reflecting on 2021 and the first half of 2022, I have listed below some key charitable giving trends that churches and nonprofits can learn from and embrace going forward:
1. Building Relationships Through In-person, Virtual, and Hybrid Events
Long awaited in-person events and gatherings are back, and they are reviving offering and fundraising potential. As we continue to navigate through the pandemic and vaccines/boosters are more widely available, congregants are returning to church pews and donors are showing up to fundraising events. This welcome reunion and renewed fellowship has prompted opportunities to drop dollars into the offering plate and make in-person gifts again.
However, it is crucial that we do not abandon virtual and hybrid events. Many people are not yet able or ready to rejoin the crowds. I trust that over the last couple of years, your organization has adopted an effective online presence and virtual meeting capabilities, and I implore you to continue using these virtual platforms in conjunction with your in-person gatherings. I hope you will continue to allow your members and donors to attend and participate via live streams, and do not stop promoting online giving. Enable people to continue supporting and interacting with your mission in the way suits them best.
2. Identifying Their Needs and Providing Donors with Flexibility
Based on many of the conversations I’ve had over the years, donors tend to give more when they have more options. To piggyback on the previous point of continued use of digital platforms and promoting online giving, be sure that your congregants and donors are fully aware that they have the option of giving online or making mobile donations. It’s no secret that younger generations are less likely to carry cash or a checkbook, so do not leave money on the table by failing to provide them with digital payment methods (e.g., Google Pay, Apple Pay, PayPal, Stripe, Venmo, text-to-give, QR codes, etc.). Alternatively, do not leave others high and dry by turning down checks and cash.
Some of the less common—but equally important—ways of giving include ACH and wire transfers, stock gifts, as well as gifts of other appreciated assets/property. With so many giving options out there, it is important for your church or nonprofit to understand them and prepare for them ahead of time by adopting a gift acceptance policy. FYI: you can find a sample gift acceptance policy here.
When talking about donor flexibility, one of the most useful giving vehicles out there is the Donor Advised Fund (DAF). DAFs have been around for many years, but they have really become popular mechanisms as of late. Donors can set up a DAF and contribute to the fund as often as they want and immediately receive a tax deduction. They then have the flexibility to advise the fund administrator (e.g., TPF, Fidelity, Vanguard, local community foundation, etc.) to make distributions whenever and for whatever amount to their favorite qualified charities – including yours! Learn more about DAFs and how they work here.
3. Being Where They Are, Especially Online
Over the last decade or so, social media has changed how we do many things, and this certainly includes fundraising. Platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube have enabled churches and nonprofits to digitally showcase their valuable mission work and share their impactful stories. And over the last couple years, we have seen a huge rise in peer-to-peer fundraising on social media. If you’re a frequent social media user, you have likely seen someone run a mini fundraiser on Facebook for a cause they are passionate about or ask their Facebook friends to make a small donation to a particular 501(c)(3) in lieu of a gift on their birthday. Or perhaps you have even done this yourself.
As we all become more connected online, and as information is more easily shared amongst social media users, opportunities to get the word out about your church or nonprofit increase. Ensure that your organization’s online footprint is strong and engaging because it is often the first impression you have on someone. As the world continues leaning more and more into the world of social media, I encourage you to use it to your advantage in cultivating community-centric generosity. Not to mention, focusing on your digital communication channels makes it easy as ever to maintain positive relationships and say thank you to congregants and donors.
These three items certainly do not come close to encompassing all we have seen and learned recently. As times continue to change, so too will the tactics needed to reach the greatest crowd of donors and supporters. So, as you consider the trends listed above in conjunction with the goals of your own organization, please do not just stop there. It’s time to keep gathering new information and ideas. Evaluate what is working and what isn’t. Encourage feedback, integrate efficiency and effectiveness, and continue evolving for the better. As always TPF is eager to support you in these efforts. For additional information and resources, please CLICK HERE to visit our TPF Legacy Builder website.
Hang on, partner─we’re on this ride together!