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2021 Predictions: The Role Nonprofits May Play in the Fight—Part I

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We welcomed 2021 after a year of unpredictable events across the globe. The COVID-19 pandemic, impactful social movements, and shifting values and economic circumstances all required major adaptations, but nonprofits can use these challenges to draw insights about what to expect for the rest of the year.

21Hopefully, your own successful pivots in 2020 have put your organization in a solid position to look ahead with strength and confidence. For example, the nonprofit landscape recently experienced a myriad of changes in the last year. We’ve seen the rapid use of new registration and scheduling tools with respect to optimizing COVID tests and vaccine appointments. The focus of donors this year turned to support a variety of current social justice initiatives. That’s just the beginning.

Trends and values are dramatically changing as we are forced to reevaluate what really matters in the face of a global health crisis. Let’s explore how 2020 changed the way people are giving and how nonprofits can plan for the year ahead of us. Here are four predictions for the nonprofit landscape based on the challenges that have shaped it in the past year:

  • Nonprofit software will contribute to broader COVID-19 efforts.
  • Nonprofits will benefit from increased feelings of trust from the public.
  • Donating as a means to support topical issues will remain relevant.
  • Planning and fundraising will continue shifting into the online space.

These predictions take into account the slew of unprecedented events from 2020 and how they affected giving and participation in times of crisis. Let’s dive into what this year could mean for nonprofits and how to move forward with this information.

Prediction 1: Nonprofit software will contribute to broader COVID-19 efforts.

In late 2020 and early 2021, COVID-19 vaccines hit the market across the world. The public is scrambling to sign up for treatment, and medical centers are trying to keep up with the high demands. The solution for many of these healthcare organizations is to search for a registration tool to optimize the signup process.

Software for helping organizations optimize their donor registration process has actually begun being leveraged for COVID-19 relief efforts. For instance, Lumaverse’s SignUpGenius has become a provider for vaccine scheduling tools (Source). Keep in mind, this tool is not specifically for COVID-19 vaccine scheduling — it is an online signup tool used by thousands of organizations for the purpose of scheduling vaccine administration. 

When an organization chooses to use this platform, it can distribute its signups to those in need. Some organizations like health departments, pharmacies, or grocery stores, opt to post their registration portal on their website. Other companies simply email the registration to those who qualify for the vaccine. Either way, they’re able to expedite the registration process and optimize their efforts for distributing the vaccine.

This interesting use case comes from the fact that nonprofit software is often heavily optimized for ease of use on both the front- and backends. Ready-made tools like this one have been well-positioned to help contribute to broader pandemic relief efforts and logistical challenges. 

When your team looks to invest in a signup platform to help your community organize their vaccination efforts, be sure to look for the following features: 

  • Custom landing pages—Choose software that helps your team create a custom landing page to function as your vaccine appointment scheduling portal for your organization. Brand this page accordingly and display all your appointment signups in an easy-to-understand format. Participants can visit the page and locate the particular appointment sign-up that pertains to them. Be sure to organize your slots by date, time, or location.
  • Dedicated administrators—If your organization aims to manage multiple registration pages for various locations, it’s suggested that you allow each location to manage its own signup process. Look for software that allows you to assign various administrators to each subsection of locations.
  • High data security—Your data security is crucial, and a breach could tarnish your organization’s reputation. Be sure to choose your registration tool for its high-security measures that can keep you compliant.

Moving forward in 2021, many organizations (including community nonprofits) may be asked to help with vaccination efforts. In 2021, we are anticipating one-dose vaccines, as well as those with easier storage requirements than existing options. When this happens, registration sites with a streamlined set-up process and helpful features are a solution for nonprofits not accustomed to mass scheduling.

Prediction 2: Nonprofits will benefit from increased feelings of trust from the public.

Nonprofits have taken center stage in the midst of social justice efforts as well as COVID-19 relief efforts. People are giving time and money in support of their community’s public health as well as ways to contribute to highly pertinent issues such as racial injustice and climate change in 2020. Based on this, nonprofits are tentatively growing more confident looking forward to 2021 as a year of increased contributions.

Overall, nonprofits have remained the top trusted institutions in the U.S., above government and media. The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance administered a survey in 2020 which confirmed that most American adults trust charities more than they trust other institutions. Therefore, people are largely confident their dollars will be used in beneficial and helpful ways if contributed to a nonprofit. However, it’s important to note that only 17% said they have “high trust” in nonprofits (source).

Concurrently, charitable giving grew by 7.6% during the first nine months of 2020, versus that same time period in 2019, according to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project’s 2020 Third Quarter Report. This means that trust in nonprofits has increased, and so has the drive to give. Although COVID-19 has had a significant impact on people’s spending habits, many are still choosing to give their hard-earned money to causes they care about.  

Moving forward in 2021, consider what your nonprofit can do to build and secure more of your donors’ trust in your efforts. According to the Edelman Trust Barometer (2020), “people today grant their trust based on two distinct attributes: competence and ethical behavior.” Remaining well-informed of current events will help establish your nonprofit’s competence and will help build increased trust. Donors are giving based on how effective they believe their dollars will be in your hands, so be sure to publicize the results of your efforts in 2020, as well as your plans and goals for the upcoming fundraising season.

To be continued next week ...

In Part II of this article, Mike will discuss predictions 3 and 4, which will cover donations and online fundraising.

BarrosMike Barros is the President and CEO of Lumaverse Technologies. Before joining the Lumaverse, Mike was the President of Education Brands at Community Brands, the CEO of Diamond Mind, and the Chief Revenue Officer at JackBe. He resides in the DC-Metro area.

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