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9 Things Philanthropy Executives Need to Know in 2021

By Nick Cericola and Katie Everts

Covid-19’s impact on philanthropy strategy will not be limited to the duration of the public health crisis. The pandemic is accelerating the arrival of inevitable long-term challenges and opportunities. Once distant ambitions—from a rich digital engagement to a modern pipeline growth strategy—are quickly becoming requisites.

Successful development leaders will understand that their response to the challenges of the Covid-19 era is inextricably tied to their post-pandemic growth. Solving for the problems of the next 12 months should be viewed as an accelerated effort to solve for the problems of the next 10 years.

This briefing reports the top insights philanthropy executives need to know in 2021:

1. Amid a historic public health crisis, individual donors and institutions gave generously to fight the pandemic while largely waving off their own economic anxieties. Read Insight 1

2. First-time crisis donors fueled many Covid-19 relief efforts, but most won’t continue their support after 2020. Read Insight 2

3. Covid-19 made virtual engagement a nonnegotiable part of donor strategy. Development professionals should ensure it stays that way. Read Insight 3

4. As uncertainty continues to dominate regular life, fundraisers must embrace storytelling and communicate their Covid-19 impact to key stakeholders. Read Insight 4

5. The combined forces of the pandemic and economic downturn are accelerating the impact of generational change on donor preferences and behaviors. Read Insight 5

6. Last year magnified longstanding inequities in U.S. health care from racial disparities in Covid-19 outcomes to the impact of the social determinants of health—and donors have noticed. Read Insight 6

7. Health systems are formalizing new roles to address social determinants of health—and it’s time for philanthropy to step up its involvement. Read Insight 7

8. Development executives and their boards must use the current national environment as a catalyst to set concrete goals and make specific investments in diversity, equity, and inclusion. Read Insight 8

9. Given an uncertain economic environment and plenty of new ambitions, 2021 is a year to focus on developing new measures of success. Read Insight 9

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