Fundraising in 2021 – What Can We Expect?

Donors came through for nonprofits in 2020. According to the latest Fundraising Effectiveness Project Report, donations in 2020 were up 10.6%, the number of donors increased by 7.3%, and new donors grew by 13.3% (all compared to 2019). The Blackbaud Institute 2020 Charitable Giving Report showed average gift size in 2020 increasing by 19.4%, with online giving making big strides forward (up 21% compared to 2019).

Now the big question on the minds of many fundraisers is “What can we expect in 2021?” We don’t have a crystal ball, yet several recent reports and surveys provide some insight into what 2021 might bring.

The Lilly School of Philanthropy at Indiana University has predicted an increase in overall charitable giving of 4.1% in 2021 and 5.7% in 2022.  This includes giving by individuals (including bequests), foundations, and corporations. In making their forecast, the School uses a model that considers multiple economic influences, such as the growth of the Gross Domestic Product and the strength of the stock market. They do note, however, that “unknowns” such as federal and state legislation changes and the availability of and ability to administer Covid-19 vaccines will play a role in the growth.

Fundraisers are a little more cautious. The fourth edition of the CCS Philanthropic Climate Survey (conducted in January 2021) shows 43% of fundraisers surveyed expecting an overall fundraising decline for their organizations in 2021 and 27% expecting an increase. Interestingly, 62% expect a decrease in special event fundraising (we’re a little more bullish). More confidence is given to major gift fundraising, with 46% of those surveyed expecting an increase in 2021.

Donors themselves remain optimistic about giving in 2021 – even when surveyed in late 2020. A Campbell Rinker Poll (December of 2020) showed 67% of donors expected to give the same or more in 2021 as they did in 2020. A striking 87% of people surveyed by FrontStream (December 2020) said they expected to give to charity in 2021, with 19% saying they expected to give more than in 2020.

And what have we seen? So far in 2021, events have been strong, with almost all clients reaching 100% or more of their goal. We believe giving will remain strong, though fundraising events/campaigns will need to be flexible. Beautiful summer weather, comfort levels with gathering, and the ability to clearly message your organization’s need and impact in a post-Covid world will influence event success.

Our advice right now: do all you can to reach out to donors, especially those who were new in 2020. Remind them of the impact they have made through their donations, express thanks and gratitude, and encourage engagement beyond a financial contribution. Strengthening these bonds is critical for future fundraising success.

Webinar: The Rapidly-Changing Landscape of Event Fundraising

With plans changing rapidly for 2021, Fladeboe Advancement will address what the fundraising data has revealed from recent virtual events, how to plan to move into a hybrid model, and key steps organizations can take now to increase support this year – regardless of whether we are in-person, hybrid or virtual.

You’ll hear from our team members, including auctioneers Andy Imholte and Stacey McCurnin, who will give you their perspective on how auctions and fund-a-needs will work in hybrid.


Presenters: Glen Fladeboe, Andy Imholte, Kristin Kroll, Stacey McCurnin, Kate Pearce, Kimberly Proffitt, and Paula Werner
Cost: Free

Space is limited and registration is required so reserve your spot today.

CAN’T make the live event? Register now and watch the session at your convenience, after March 25th

Webinar: Virtual, Hybrid, and the Future of Special Event Fundraising

Tap into the collective expertise of our Fladeboe team! How can your nonprofit share your mission, engage your donors, and meet revenue goals into the coming year, with so much unknown about how we will gather in the future? We have some answers.

On December 15th at noon CST, join us for an interactive webinar to learn our key takeaways from virtual events, our strategic plans for hybrid, and what we see for the future of special event fundraising. Hint: It’s not a replay of your 2019 gala.

Register for our Webinar

Date: Tuesday, December 15, 2020
Time: 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm CST (including lots of time for your questions!)
Presenters: Kimberly Proffitt, Kristin Kroll, Kristine Fladeboe Duininck, Kate Pearce, Stacey McCurnin, Glen Fladeboe and Paula Werner
Cost: Free

Space is limited and registration is required so reserve your spot today. Can’t make the live event? Register now and watch the session at your convenience, after December 15th.

Like us on Facebook and follow us on LinkedIn for regular updates on what’s new in fundraising events and campaigns.

Virtual Events in Response to COVID-19


Virtual events are quickly becoming a popular tool for many nonprofits. Fladeboe Advancement has developed the best practices in virtual event fundraising and is helping a wide range of nonprofit organizations create a successful virtual event.

In this KARE 11 news feature, watch Glen Fladeboe, Principal Partner at Fladeboe Advancement, explain how one organization quickly – and successfully – made the change.

Fladeboe Update Regarding COVID-19 and Events

Today we are sharing the action steps Fladeboe Advancement is taking in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and the potential impact to our clients and their special events.

First, we are continuing to plan that events will happen over the coming weeks and months. We, like all of you, will look to the recommendations of state and national health professionals to guide decisions regarding postponing or canceling.

If events do need to be cancelled, we recommend our spring 2020 clients reschedule their event for a weeknight date this summer. Fladeboe Advancement will not be charging a cancellation fee to clients rescheduling an event.

Our team will guide our clients on effective strategies to engage donors in a mission-based (fund-a-need) online giving campaign. Organizations will be able to utilize their current online or mobile giving platform (such as Auction Harmony, OneCause, GiveSmart or Greater Giving). For organizations deciding to have a virtual event, our contract agreement will remain in effect.

In addition, Fladeboe Advancement will assist clients with key strategies to market live auction items through an online auction format, enhancing the return and value of these items.

It is our sincere hope that events can continue in the coming weeks and months. That said, we stand ready and committed to proactively assist you in every way to address this challenge and provide smart, actionable and mission-based solutions to ensure the financial well-being of your organization. Finally, we believe the right strategies used in this moment will rally and motivate donors during this time of need.

For a consultation about conducting a virtual event, or to inquire about rescheduling your event on a new date, please contact one of our team members listed below.


Glen Fladeboe

Kristin Kroll,
Paula Werner,
Kristine Fladeboe-Duininck,
Kate Pearce,
Stacey McCurnin,