It’s the time of year for lists. Whether it be a grocery list for a (smaller than usual) holiday dinner, a shopping list for gifts for your family, or simply a lengthy to-do list for the week, there are a lot of items competing for your attention as we reach the end of 2020. For most working in social good, that list also extends to two crucial items: end-of-year fundraising and board meeting prep. It can be challenging to find the time needed to truly dive into the data that drives the development of donor outreach materials and presentations, but without that information it can be difficult to speak to the current landscape and the strategic direction for next year. Both of these items are areas where insight can lead to stronger donor conversion rates.
Data helps to answer our questions. Often we look at it fondly because it reinforces a decision we have made, or it helps us to course correct when distracted by something new and shiny. We are in a tricky time where the story that data tells us might not be what everyone wants to hear. More importantly, it is impossible to predict the ending and the narrative to get there will likely change quite a bit.
As we head into Thanksgiving we’re receiving constant reminders from virtually every channel that we’re nearing the end of the year. Whether it be Black Friday discounts, cold weather or holiday plans, you can’t ignore the fact that we’re creeping towards the end of the year that was 2020. For the social sector, that also means a heightened period of fundraising, both around #GivingTuesday and general year-end appeals.
Teamwork is not a new concept. Whether it be in business, sports, or politics, what can be achieved with the help of many almost always surpasses the work of one. This is for two reasons. One, each contributor offers different skills, resources, and perspective, fostering an environment that encourages new ideas and solutions to old problems. Two, working as a team ensures that all players are bought-in to what you’re trying to achieve - each person has a stake in the game.
October means playoff baseball. It’s the month of the most gloriously unexpected. Moments of heroes that rise to the occasion when the pressure is on, like Gibson’s walk-off against the A’s in 1988. And we’ve seen legendary performances from teams you thought had the odds stacked against them, like the 1906 White Sox “Hitless Wonders” who secured the title. As we watch four talented teams battle in their respective series, you may be eagerly asking yourself what will be the story we remember this year?
It’s rarely easy to raise money, and the global pandemic isn’t helping. The nonprofit sector has always relied on relationships to fundraise. Events and in-person meetings are a thing of the past. What do you do when traditional fundraising channels are no longer possible? Fortunately, many nonprofit organizations have not taken advantage of their board members' full reach, due largely to lack of clear data about the organization's impact.
“The inequity in this district as compared to the other districts surrounding us has always been so tangible and clear,” explains Jenna Wachtel Pronovost, Executive Director of the Ravenswood Education Foundation. “Then COVID happened and the schools closed. The inequities have intensified in this environment, and we knew we would have to act quickly to support our students and the greater community.”
Many foundations have responded quickly to provide funding to those most in need during COVID-19. Yet the stark reality is that there is more need than funds available. The challenge for foundations today is how to maximize the impact of COVID-19 relief funding by investing with both urgency and intentionality.
This blog post was written in collaboration with Dr. Lisa Delpy Neirotti, Ph.D., Associate Professor & Director of Sports Management Programs at The George Washington University School of Business.
Access to relevant, actionable data presents an enormous opportunity for the impact sector to be more effective and efficient in reaching its goals and realizing its potential. In fact, we’re beginning to see the sector shift significantly in this direction, best represented by our champions at our partner organizations, who are leading their teams to become more data driven.