February 10, 2022 Wiley Stinnett

The old saying the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry seems to be truer now than ever before.

As direct response fundraisers, we are all about planning—setting clear, achievable goals and creating strategies to meet those goals. We plan the creative, determine the channels of communication, and lay out the timeline. Finally, we execute the plan, then monitor the results as the donors respond so we can use the data to inform the next plan.

But the past couple of years have taken their toll on this (somewhat) comfortable process. What started with adjusting plans in response to the worldwide outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has continued on. Add to that the regularly occurring natural disasters. Then, layer in ongoing political strife, social justice issues, and a struggling economy—among other issues—and we, as fundraisers, find ourselves in a continued state of flux.

What began as a response to a situation has now become our fundraising anthem: nimble, agile, and quick to respond. It’s still vital, of course, that we plan for each year (calendar and fiscal), but we know that at any moment, we may need to shift and swiftly adjust to accommodate the potential impact of any situation that may arise.

In partnership with our clients, we worked tirelessly through 2021 and all that came with it—and it’s safe to say there was ample opportunity to apply this new anthem. One such instance was with an organization that operates internationally.

As we saw COVID spikes and subsequent lockdowns in Southeast Asia, in the time leading up to the Summer Olympics in Japan, we identified a messaging opportunity about this organization’s intense need in that part of the world. We acted quickly to create a multi-channel campaign, and it generated significant additional income for the organization—but this was only possible because we were closely monitoring the situation in this part of the world. Nimble, agile, and quick to respond . . . that posture allowed us to leverage the increased awareness of the specific need, made more visible through the national media.

As you begin 2022, remember these key insights:

1. Be intentional in planning your fundraising efforts so there’s no question about meeting your organization’s funding goals.

2. As opportunities or needs arise, be aware of surrounding circumstances and stand ready to pivot so you can maximize the dollars you raise despite the ever-changing fundraising landscape.

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