Having navigated your way through the impact of COVID-19 and the associated restrictions and challenges, you must be looking forward to some time off at the end of the year. You certainly deserve it. The ‘quiet period’, however, does provide opportunities for reflection and planning, and in the next three months it will be possible to position yourself, your team and your institution for success in 2021.
Offices and teams which have been forced to work remotely are starting to meet together in person again. While there are still some uncertainties, this nevertheless provides an opportunity to reset strategies and activities, build team confidence and productivity, and demonstrate adaptability and creativity in the emerging advancement settings. It is time to reflect on what we have learnt throughout the challenges of 2020 and what we can and should adapt and use as we enter 2021.
Two truths have been proven time and again during the year. The first is that Hope is not a Strategy. Everyone needs hope, of course, but those institutions which have adjusted and followed existing strategies and plans, or even developed them during the year, have found strong responses from their communities, deeper engagement and in many cases increased financial support. The second truth which has become so evident is that Doing nothing means you are going backwards because the majority of institutions, from all we have seen and heard, have taken proactive steps during the pandemic to show their relevance and importance in the lives of their communities, partners and supporters. And they are being rewarded.
We would like to suggest a few key ways in which you can plan ahead for 2021 to give yourself a flying start with an energised, committed and unified team.
In Alumni Engagement activities, plan to develop or enhance opportunities for:
- Life-long learning
- Identifying and cultivating notable alumni (and working with the fundraising team to maximise opportunities around such people)
- Building stronger volunteer and advocacy groups
The Fundraising Team should be planning to:
- Increase the potential donor pool and strengthen the donor pipeline
- Develop powerful stewardship plans for major donors to increase their level of engagement and prospects for further support
- Increase efforts across bequest programs – or develop a bequest program if one does not exist
Within the office, the Case for Support is the foundation for philanthropic success.
- Review and adapt/adjust your current Case in the light of the pandemic and its impacts
- Clearly identify what is worthy of support in your institution, and what the key investible opportunities are
- Consider the best ways of presenting your revised Case to possible supporters and donors, drawing upon digital skills you have developed during the year
2020 has taught us a great deal about better, more meaningful and more effective communication. For 2021, consider:
- What will you still keep in print format (or as print AND digital) and what will you have as purely digital communication
- What events you may be able to hold in person, and which can be held virtually (and how those virtual events can be made still better)
- What virtual activities you can offer to engage with much wider – even global – audiences which will enhance enrolment, community engagement, alumni outreach and philanthropic potential for the institution.
Against each of these opportunities there is one other important task. It is essential to track and measure the success of each initiative, and that means setting a small number of key metrics for each one and tracking progress against those metrics. At regular intervals (quarterly at a minimum) measure the success of your activities and then take the really important step of reporting your progress and results clearly to the leadership in your institution (Head, Board, Council, Foundation etc) to show how their investment in advancement is providing strong, consistent and significant support to the institution, both in financial ways and in terms of greater engagement.
Your Marts & Lundy team has enormous experience across all these advancement areas. We would be delighted to discuss any aspects of your work with you and support you as you plan for success in 2021.