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  • Writer's pictureLipton Strategies

Philanthropy Insights: 2020 Trends and How to Keep Momentum in 2021

Updated: Apr 16, 2021

Despite all the challenges faced in 2020, it was a pivotal year for nonprofit organizations. Adapting to the ever-changing landscape, nonprofits embraced innovative, new fundraising solutions which enabled continued growth.

In the first half of 2020 alone, the Fundraising Effectiveness Project’s 2020 Second Quarter Report, recorded the total number of donors increased by 7.2% compared to the first half of 2019. Donor retention rates rose 1.8% overall and new donors increased by an astounding 12.6%, demonstrating great enthusiasm to support the critical work of nonprofit organizations.

A recent report from the Blackbaud Institute surveyed 8,833 nonprofit organizations and showed that overall giving grew by 2% in 2020 on a year-over-year basis. Organizations with an annual budget of $10M+ experienced the greatest growth (5.3%).

2020 Overall Giving Trends by Organization Size

According to the 2020 Global Trends in Giving Survey, 80% of donors prefer to give online and the global pandemic only accelerated the trend of online giving. As online giving platforms embraced new digital solutions such as Venmo, nonprofit organizations reaped the rewards and saw a boost in donations.

Keeping in mind continued the increase in donations and donor preferences to give online, it is important for organizations to build strategic donor engagement plans for 2021. Here are our three key tips to consider when crafting your donor engagement plans this year:

#1 Personalization is Critical

There may be strategies or tactics that you wouldn’t have considered previously, but these are different times. Explore new ways to personalize your donor engagement beyond simple segmentation of email lists. Personalized video messages, handwritten thank-you notes, more social communications, FaceTime, and even Zoom meetings should be considered as part of your engagement strategy.

There are also great solutions to help streamline and automate these processes. Check out our Strategic Partner Addressable for an easy way to send handwritten thank-you notes to your donors!

#2 Focus on Donor Retention

Your digital donor file likely grew significantly in 2020. Lean into that habit by not just retaining those donors in the channel they were acquired but also by leveraging digital to grow your donor file in the new year. Your audiences expect to be able to engage with your mission-centric content, share it with their networks, evaluate and understand the impact of their giving, and give again through their preferred online medium.

This is also a great opportunity to think about how to turn a one-time donor into a recurring donor. 51% of donors are enrolled in a recurring giving program, and the vast majority of those give monthly. Remember – it’s much easier to retain and grow a donor than to acquire a new one.

#3: Engage Donors Where They’re At

With events and communication moving to the virtual world, social media became even more important for keeping donors informed about everything going on at your nonprofit. To make sure you’re utilizing your time well, figure out which platform your donors use most and where they want to get updates from you.

Think about sending an email to your donors with a survey link to understand the content they want to receive or use the poll features on Facebook and Instagram to engage your audience and tailor your communications.

Let us help your organization craft your donor engagement strategy! Contact our team to set up a free consultation at

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