Think back to the time before Covid-19…

  • Can you recall your organization’s goals back then?
  • Do you remember what you were planning to raise money for?
  • Did you have big goals that were rudely interrupted when you couldn’t do business as usual?

It’s as though in a flash we were all transported into a different time and place. Programs and plans that were well-conceived and seemed so straight forward all of a sudden didn’t fit the situation.

COVID Consequences for Nonprofits

Nonprofits across the board were required to pivot due to the pandemic.

Your programs may have moved online. Your organization may have found itself struggling by the increased demand for the critical services you provide. Or, you may have found that your core mission (producing live theatre, for example) had to be put on hold. You still had staff to pay, but with no immediate source of revenue.

For most people, this has been a long and complicated period of time.

Different Responses from Different Organizations

Organizations responded differently to the changing landscape — particularly when it came to fundraising.

Some, in a misguided sense that fundraising was somehow “inappropriate,” saved money by firing their development staff and hunkered down to wait out the storm. Others saw the opportunity to draw their donors close and raise even more money because of the situations caused by Covid19.

Not surprisingly, the organizations that stopped investing time and energy in fundraising, well… they didn’t raise much money.

Meanwhile, the organizations that did invest time, energy and resources in fundraising during this challenging time have seen their fundraising revenues grow — in spite of, and in some cases because of, the challenges.

Rounding the Corner on the Virus

Now we’re facing a new turn in the path. It’s time to look to the future and plan for what might be possible.

As more and more people get the vaccine, we can see that just around the corner, we will find some semblance of a new normal. That normal will likely combine elements of what you were pre-Pandemic with what you’ve learned through this challenging year to create a new, ambitious and forward-looking picture of what you will become.

A Time to Reinvent Your Nonprofit

Yes, in this in-between time, you have an opportunity to create a vision of what you might become. And the vision of what you might become might well serve as the basis for a successful Back to the Future fundraising campaign.

Planning for the Post-Covid Future

So, how will your organization get back to the future?

1. Revisit Your Strategic Plan

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is your strategic plan still relevant?
  • What went bust as a result of the pandemic?
  • What’s still resonant?
  • Have new opportunities come to light through the past year that have taken your organization in another direction?

Your answers will shed light on how you might update your strategic plan.

2. Put Together an Ad Hoc Committee for Vision

Gather a group (or several groups) of community leaders, your largest and most loyal donors, clients/constituents, industry experts, and other key leaders. Ask them to help brainstorm and to provide feedback about what your next two to five years could look like. What opportunities have opened up for your organization during the past year?

TIP: A powerful tactic for developing your vision is to focus on what you would do if funding wasn’t an issue!

3. Plan for 2021 and Beyond

If you could return your programs and services to 2019, would you? What will be different in 2021 and beyond? What will your organization look like five years from now? Ten years from now?

4. Shaping the Results into a Capacity Campaign

Once you have developed a plan for the future, you may be able to develop some clear objectives that will serve as the basis for a capacity campaign — that is, a special campaign to raise the funds you will need to jet-propel your organization into the future.

So Are You Ready for a Campaign?

Here at the Toolkit, we’re sensing a new feeling optimism (and even excitement!) from many of our members as they start to plan for what’s to come.

As you plan for your post-Covid future, consider a capital campaign or a capacity campaign. Now’s the time to begin planning. But how do you know if your organization is truly ready for a campaign?

Take this free campaign readiness assessment to discover how ready you really are based on six key aspects of your organization.


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