We made it to March. This is the month that many of us will mark as the anniversary of COVID—the early wave of cancellations, the transition to remote work, the first stories of loss, and many other previously unimagined changes. I hope this month offers you opportunities to reflect on the past year, including both its difficulties and the strengths those challenges brought to light.
One thing I’m feeling great about is how clearly Avalon teams excelled for our clients during the past year. Blackbaud just published its Charitable Giving Report for 2020, which reports an increase of 2% in overall giving. When you look at this by subsector, however, it is clear that human service nonprofits are driving this growth. Most other subsectors reported a decrease. I am happy to say that our clients are outperforming these numbers! That being said, we take this nuance seriously and will factor overall subsector performance into 2021 strategies.
The Blackbaud report is also significant for its online insights. Online giving increased by 20.7% and now represents 13% of total giving, the highest ever reported. In consultation with Steve MacLaughlin of Blackbaud, The Agitator summed up the surge as follows:
The spike in 2020 online giving reflects the pandemic’s forced removal of ways in which organizations could raise money and ways in which donors could give. In short, as galas, marathons, other events and person-to-person contact were curtailed, there was little alternative but to move online. And that’s exactly what alert and capable nonprofits did…For nonprofits who believe that this consumer/donor behavior is likely to revert to pre-pandemic days I believe they’re in for a real disappointment. We’ve all had nearly a year to form a digital habit that will be hard to break.
Also on the theme of taking stock, I came across this summary of Edelman’s 2021 Trust Barometer, and I thought the assessment for nonprofits was interesting. Long story short, the pandemic, national racial reckoning, and economic crisis have deeply impacted how people trust institutions and sectors. Unfortunately, trust in NGOs has declined slightly this year, and, while the public views them as ethical, they are seen as less competent than business, government, and media. This data is a good reminder that messaging should reinforce impact and competence, in addition to need.
Finally, March is a great time to get outside! A friend got me hooked on the app All Trails, which allows you to find trails for walking, hiking, dog walking, and even biking. You can research, calculate distance and approximate time, save and even track your hikes. For everyone still bearing with cold weather, I also enjoyed this great article from Avalon client The Trustees: Stay Positive This Winter. And if you still need convincing, take a look at this research that shows only 2 hours per week outside makes a difference for mental wellness.