Do you see it? It’s faint but growing brighter every day. That’s the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel.
As we emerge from one of the most challenging years the entire world has endured in living memory,
what does that mean for you, your career, and your fundraising?
1. Think short-term
Remember five-year strategic plans? Every organisation’s plans collectively went out the window in 2020.
However, let’s speak plainly and honestly here. The five-year strategic plan was already a dinosaur ready to meet its fate. Technology and society move too fast and too furiously to create a world where we can accurately project what strategies we should focus on in half a decade from now.
If your organisation made a five-year strategic plan in 2016, did you even consider the possibility of Brexit, a global pandemic that would ‘lockdown’ millions of people, the range of social issues that have drawn international conversation, and society’s focus on climate change, let alone the advancements in technology?
Didn’t think so.
While it’s still important for your fundraising department to have a vision and plan where it wants to be in five years, it’s much more crucial to focus on where you’re heading over the next 12 months.
Even with the barrage of curveballs we’ve experienced recently, technology and society will not stand still for long. Indeed, I would say it is more likely that advances will be made now.
Therefore, it is vital to ensure your next strategic planning session strongly takes into account the short term.
2. Don’t take your eye off online giving
Now that many more people are giving online, are you poised to take advantage? Do your campaigns have compelling online components? Do you have a robust plan to steward online donors? Is your electronic receipt bland or a compelling extension of your branding?
All of these items and more should be taken into account during your strategic planning sessions as well as how online giving will develop alongside and dovetail into other forms of giving.
3. Future-proof your career
To say it’s common to feel uncertainty in our current jobs is an understatement. Many in the fundraising profession have either lost their jobs or have been furloughed with the fear that unemployment looms at the end. All of this can cause feelings of isolation and a lack of self-confidence
That’s why this is an ideal time to revisit your CV to review your most recent fundraising jobs and examine how you can improve and formalise your fundraising education.
By earning a fundraising diploma or a globally recognised certification, such as becoming a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), you’ll shine in the job market and your opportunities will significantly broaden.
As we become more advanced in our careers, we often become more specialised.
However, the pitfall we face is we might not be keeping up on other related fundraising trends. We can easily lose sight of how our work knits together with other areas of fundraising.
Pursuing a diploma or certification can give us that 360-degree view we’ll need to come out of the pandemic and be ready for a shifting fundraising landscape and bring a deeper experience to our area of expertise.
4. Birds of a feather shouldn’t always flock together
Is your professional network heavily comprised of others with your same type of fundraising expertise or co-workers who have mainly worked for the same kinds of organisations?
It could be time to broaden your professional network. If you earn a certification, it may be your ticket to a social network amongst other certificants. Joining the Association of Fundraising Consultants or another professional group can help expand your knowledge and perspective. Professional organisations often provide fresh opportunities to collaborate and interact with peers facing the same challenges.
Research local or national fundraising organisations and join the ones you think will best help you to expand your knowledge while growing your professional circle.
You’ll never regret being prepared
Since March 2020, nearly everyone feels like the rug has been pulled out from under them to some degree.
As we see hopeful signals that pieces of returning to normalcy are falling into place, take action now so you and your organisation can be in the strongest possible position to come out the other side wiser and ready for anything.
By Ashley Gatewood and Caroline Hutt, CFRE