New Year Brings Hope for the Future

As we start the new year, the news is grim. The pandemic is still disrupting life, schools are shutting down, offices are closed, supply chain issues persist and extreme weather is predicted.

It would be easy to think the sky is falling and we’re all doomed. But at Lautman, we remain optimistic. About fundraising … and our futures.

Let us share with you all the reasons why:

First, we’re coming off of an incredibly strong year-end fundraising season. While we patiently wait for all the mail results to come in, digital fundraising campaigns performed very well. From Giving Tuesday straight through year-end, donors showed their generosity, compassion and concern. Those of us in the direct response industry weren’t so sure what to expect after a phenomenal 2020 year-end. And while not every organization was able to beat those numbers, many DID! Nonprofits continue to raise more money each year, growing their donor files and increasing the value of donors through automated and upgraded giving. Donors – regular people around the country who want to make the world a better place – fill us with optimism.

OUR Q1 FUNDRAISING PREDICTION: Revenue and donor files remain steady as we pivot from year-end to renewals and mailed acquisition starts to dip in performance.

Second, we are all living through some of the biggest direct mail production challenges of our careers. How many times have your production directors said “I’ve never seen anything like this”? We’ve heard it a lot, and it’s true. None of us have experienced month-long delays to receive envelopes or paper stock. Our production schedules have gotten extremely complex with more details and moving parts than ever before.

And yet we’re doing it!  We’re still mailing the campaigns we planned for. We’re strategizing earlier, leaning on our gut instincts, and working faster and smarter. We’re stronger communicators – amongst our teams and with our clients and our industry partners. We’ve come together, and we’re getting our jobs done. The strength of our partnerships and our shared ability to think creatively and do whatever is needed to produce high quality mail fills us with optimism.

OUR Q1 PRODUCTION PREDICTION: Implementing winning test results in the mail continues to be a challenge as printing and production issues require us to work so far ahead. To compensate, teams will increasingly turn to digital which allows us to react more quickly.

More of us are thinking about diversity and equity within the fundraising world. This isn’t something that will change over night, but with more leaders in the industry dedicating time and energy toward shifting our strategies, our communication and targeting, the channels we use and the metrics we accept, we can build more inclusive donor files. We are inspired to be part of the direct response industry that spearheads this change toward valuing more diverse and equitable fundraising and more diverse participation and representation within nonprofits.

OUR DATA Q1 PREDICTION: We will begin to see more research, more white papers and new modeling options around diversity in fundraising.

Finally, here at Lautman, our employees also give us hope. It hasn’t been easy in this “in again, out again” office environment, yet our teams have adapted so well and we are as strong as ever. During the Covid years, we’ve been lucky to hire several new team members, onboarding them in a virtual setting. They’re doing great – and they’re making us great. Not only do they bring in new and innovative ideas for our clients’ fundraising campaigns, they bring new energy and joy to the company. News reports show employees quitting in historic numbers – but our experience is the opposite – and that fills us with optimism.

OUR Q1 COMPANY PREDICTION: We will continue to do great work for our clients, no matter what challenges come our way, because we have smart people committed to making a difference in the world.