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Revolutionary and Evolutionary Advancement Work in 2021

transition from dry to spring

Copley Raff recently held a Zoom Reunion of planMGO alumni from across the country, to catch up and to discuss some compelling fundraising issues. planMGO is a Master Gift OfficerTM curriculum and 4-day training that was conducted by Copley Raff from 2009 – 2016.

The following are valuable insights from our discussion along with conversations during my Philanthropy Massachusetts and conference trainings.

What Work Practices Will Remain After the Pandemic

I look at future advancement work practices in four categories: Analog, Digital, Video and Hybrid.

Analog: These include bonding phone calls, hard copy letters, handwritten note cards, direct mail appeals, patio meetings, fundraising events, and printed collateral. All of these should have always been used and can be into the future.

Digital: These include meeting follow-up via email, Google alerts, social media, email appeals and information sharing, blog posts, and your website. All of these should have always been used and can be into the future. You may want to consider creating a “digital giving officer” position for greater fundraising focus.

Video/Virtual: These include board and committee meetings, discussion luncheons, educational webinars or meetings, virtual events of all kinds, facility tours, and video blogging (vlog).

Analog, Digital & Video: There is no limit to how you can combine all three modes for donor discovery, cultivation, engagement, solicitation and stewardship.

Video/Virtual is Here to Stay

There is consensus that video/virtual meetings will remain a staple of doing business and that such meetings generate higher participation rates, especially for board and committee meetings.

In-person visits with donors and for discovery will increase for local visits, but many more visits will be done virtually for those who are out-of-town.

Benefits of Virtual Meetings

Most agreed that:

  1. Prospect discovery visits via Zoom are effective and enables a higher number of discovery visits than conducting them in person. While not ideal, enough is gleaned from the discovery visit to make this approach valuable because more people can be reached and your major donor pipeline can grow more rapidly.
  2. The likelihood of being able to schedule the institution’s president, researcher or other VIP to visit with donors is much better than setting up live appointments. This is especially true when overnight travel would otherwise be involved.
  3. Being able to offer a noted speaker to many donors as an engagement effort will draw more attendees and therefore be more meaningful in building relationships of a broader base of donors. Advancement officers can use the chat feature to directly connect with donors during such events and during post speaker discussions.
  4. Remote meetings can be paired with providing donors with tangible accompaniments to conversations like “cocktail kits”, wine and cheese baskets, recipes that can be made by donors joined by a famous chef who would also be the speaker.

With all of the downside to the pandemic, it has forced us to use new tools, think more expansively, evaluate current and potential strategies, and to make fundamental changes to the way we do our work.

Rapid change has been forced upon us as well as our stakeholders. This is what will make 2021 an exhilarating year.

Related GivingTake Posts

It is Always Darkest Before the Dawn

What Might 2022 Look Like for Fundraising?

Fundraising in the Time of COVID-19


Copley Raff’s mission: Every interaction is to help nonprofit organizations fulfill their missions by meeting ambitious goals, aligning their leadership, elevating fundraising, and activating the brilliance of their teams. It’s a bold promise but one that we know will serve you and your organization’s mission in a way that will deliver tangible and meaningful results – the kind of results that make a real difference!

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