Words We’re Tired of Hearing – And How to Move Forward

Tired of talking about the pandemic? Leah Collins, One & All’s Director of Client Strategy & Success, is too. Here Leah shares a few high-level strategies for moving forward.

COVID. Unknown. Unprecedented. Challenging. Pivot. New normal.

If I never hear the phrase “we’re living in unprecedented times” again, my life will still be complete. 

As we have discussed on repeat, the past year has been hard. Every day has felt like a marathon-length sprint, figuring out the next right step. But guess what? We are making it through – and in many cases, with great success

With final 2020 numbers coming in, I’ve found that organizations with solid fundraising programs and diversified books of business have weathered the storm well. If a crystal ball had told me that our partners would actually show growth in 2020, I’m not sure I would have believed it. In fact, I probably would have laughed/cried out loud. 

But lucky for the fundraisers among us, people love animals. And that didn’t stop because of a pandemic. In fact, it solidified the human-animal bond even more as people spent months at home with their animals.

So, what does all this mean for our 2021 strategy? 

We continue sharing the need. 

Life is hard. Everyone has something going on in the background – and for some of our donors, that means less financial ability to support nonprofits. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to share our need with donors. 

The truth is that even with decreased animal census in many parts of the country, animal welfare organizations continue to have funding gaps. It’s okay (and important!) to transparently share how your organization has been impacted during the last year and the needs that you continue to have.

We focus on what is working. 

Repeat after me: “We are not the target audience.” Even more than in normal years, we must look to results to drive strategy – and not let opinions get in the way. While gut feelings can play a (minimal) role in guiding the direction, we must let data lead. Until the metrics tell us to stop, we continue making the case for our missions, telling the stories that move donors and giving them ways to make a difference.

We take chances. 

Thoughtful and strategic chances, but chances all the same. Our donors and prospects have been through the same trauma the rest of us have. In this environment, we’ve seen a shift. The silver lining of the pandemic is that we have the freedom to try new things. Donors have been (mostly) accepting of virtual town halls, events that look and feel different, and new ways of engaging with their favorite organizations. 

If you ever had a crazy idea, this might be the year to try it. I’m not recommending throwing your tried and true program out of the window. Instead, consider calculated tests to grow your program and maximize impact. Maybe that’s highlighting a community-based program or trying a different type of call to action. 

Taking a chance could be as simple as investing more (maybe significantly more) in areas that are working. We’ve seen donors be more generous than ever – especially in digital – so consider shifting resources to capitalize on what will work best for your organization THIS year, knowing you can make changes in the months ahead.

In short, we move forward.

Let’s use the lessons of 2020 to help us pivot during these unprecedented times to meet the challenges of this new normal move through 2021 and beyond. 


Learn More

The Association Fundraising Professional Certificate Program
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Leah Collins

Leah Collins is Director of Client Strategy & Success at One & All, a performance agency dedicated to social good. Leah has been driving strategy and raising funds for animal welfare organizations for almost 15 years. Before joining One & All, Leah worked on the nonprofit side in higher education and health care fundraising.


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