How will the end of the pandemic affect fundraising?

By Amanda Peña, AVP Advertising & Acquisition

As COVID-19 vaccines are finally becoming widely available (all people age 16+ are now eligible for vaccinations) and the CDC is relaxing rules around mask wearing, many of us are turning our sights toward the future and beginning to wonder which of the trends we’ve seen over the last year are here to stay, and what new challenges are on the horizon.

There is still a lot of uncertainty about how the pandemic will affect people’s long-term views about money and supporting causes, but we do feel confident that we’ll be hearing more about the following trends in the next year:

1. Digital will play an ever growing role in fundraising.

The pandemic was a powerful catalyst in pushing organizations to finally make those much-needed digital investments. Nearly all of our clients spent more on digital last year than in previous years, and the vast majority have seen amazing returns with this increased scale.

While many areas of public life are reopening, there are some areas of fundraising that organizations used to rely on – like face-to-face and events – that may be slower to return. We still don’t know when we’ll be able to gather in large groups without masks and how people will feel about stopping to greet fundraisers on the street. 

We predict that the mass prioritization of digital over other forms of fundraising that we’ve seen in the last year will only continue as online transactions become a way of life and 2020 digital infrastructure investments pay dividends.

2. Sustainer revenue will continue to provide security to organizations in unpredictable times.

With continuing economic anxiety created by the pandemic and looming uncertainty of how future strains of the virus could affect public health, our clients are more dedicated than ever to seriously pursuing sustainer revenue, which offers greater security and more predictable income streams. Many organizations who’ve long considered the idea of a sustainer-first model are now ready to dive in head first.

We’ve been on the front lines of learning how digital sustainer-first models can drive overall revenue growth and we’d love to work with your organization to develop a sustainer-first model across every platform (reach out to us at nonprofit@annelewisllc.com to learn more!).

3. Organizations will want to do more with less.

Understanding that many families are continuing to face economic hardship, organizations have made it a strategic priority to focus on segmentation approaches that allow them to ask for donations less often and still receive the same net amount. As tough times continue, we think this donor-centric approach is here to stay. 

Our focus on data analysis and our AI-informed modeling allow us to help our clients identify the most effective segments to target to raise more revenue with the same amount of messages a year. (You can click here to learn more about AdvantageAI!)

4. Diversity is moving to the forefront.

Many organizations are exploring acquisition approaches that are more inclusive, across race and age. This is a big development, and the organizations who figure out how best to diversify their audiences will be at a big advantage.

As is, most organizations rely primarily on white, older donors. In this shift, there are efforts underway to make supporter bases look more like the communities organizations serve. There are missed opportunities when nonprofits aren’t inviting the communities they serve to be a part of their missions.

We have partnered with organizations to take on big-picture acquisition efforts that prioritize diversity and expect that many more nonprofits will make this a strategic priority in the coming year.

A full year after the pandemic first triggered lockdowns in the United States, we are still facing so much uncertainty about the future – but we’re ready to tackle whatever challenges our partners face in the coming months! Please reach out if you want to hear more about any of these four big trends, or if you have anything else on your mind.


Associate Vice President Amanda Peña is a veteran in helping nonprofits raise money and achieve their advocacy goals, having run Oxfam America’s digital campaigns program and worked on digital fundraising and advocacy programs for nonprofits of all sizes including Planned Parenthood, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Wildlife Conservation Society. Amanda brings years of success from her time at a variety of blue-chip nonprofits and innovative programming to serve as an essential resource for cross-channel strategy-setting.

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