5 Radical Things to Try at Your Nonprofit Before 2024


The team at Community Boost gathered 25,000 nonprofit professionals with another semiannual nonprofit marketing conference. This August 2023 rendition was dubbed “Radical Impact Summit”. In a nod to the 90’s, they walked us down memory lane with visions of our favorite 90’s fashion trends, tv shows and movies, musical tunes, and tubular sayings.

Flip the dictionary – yes, we did in fact physically flip the pages of Merriam-Webster back in the 90’s! – to the word “radical” and here’s what you will read:

rad-i-cal  (ra-di-kel): Very different from the usual or traditional : EXTREME community boost radical impact memoryfox

Throughout the Summit, we were treated to several renditions of this definition. Floyd Jones of Givebutter proclaimed that “being radical is taking something in its current state and moving it into a new state.”

Misty Copeland graced us with her ballet spin on the concept: “When I think of radical impact I think of being uncomfortable. You have to be uncomfortable in order to see change and see growth.”

Being radical means taking a risk.

In 90s lingo it referred to something that was exciting, impressive, or cool. Something different.

Seth Godin may have said it best when he opened Day 2 of the Summit in keynote conversation with Jon McCoy and Becky Endicott, the king and queen of We Are For Good. “The cost of being wrong is tiny,” he urged. “The benefit is huge.” 

So in that spirit of taking exciting risks and getting out of our comfort zones to foster mission growth, here are 5 things to try at your nonprofit with potential for big reward.

5. Rethink Giving Tuesday

On average, 10% of nonprofit funds come in during the last 3 days of the year. That’s significantly more than on Giving Tuesday alone. Don’t spend all your energy building a campaign for those 24 (very competitive) hours in November, and miss engaging with your community when they are most primed to contribute: the last week of the year.

Session: “End Your Year With Ease: Year-End Fundraising Strategies To Help You Raise More And Stress Less” featuring Floyd Jones, Givebutter

Fox Tip: Use Giving Tuesday as a day of gratitude to launch into the entire giving season. Warm your community up for what’s to come in December by celebrating something wonderful happening currently. Share a video of thanks with your community explaining what this year’s funding has accomplished or show a recent project, event, or volunteer day in action.

4. Engage Gen Z with authentic videos

Gen Z cares about building meaningful relationships based on trust. They want authenticity. They want to hear personal stories of impact. Your ED does not need to be the sole spokesperson for your organization. Gen Z wants to hear about people who are a part of your cause and passionate about your mission. Invite them to participate in this dialogue with you. Showing them videos of how their gift is being used is really powerful.

From “Unleashing the Potential of Gen Z: Empowering the Future of Nonprofit Fundraising” featuring Elizabeth Ruikka, Classy & Abby Ouimet, Kesem

Fox Tip: Challenge yourself to start sharing video as the norm – and with everyone in your community, not just Gen Z. Pick one month and for every donation that comes in that month, share an impact video. This could be testimony from a program participant, a scholarship recipient, or simply a collage of selfies from your staff.

3. Shift your fundraising focus

A recurring giving program won’t solve your low donor retention rate… at least not on its own. Donor retention is one of the biggest problems we can solve in the nonprofit space. Overall, one-time donor retention is in the 20% range. For online donors, it’s 16%.

Recurring giving programs can improve retention rates, but only if done well. The idea here is to not just take the first step toward building a recurring giving program but to do it in a way that radically connects with your community. The highest performing nonprofits have recurring giving programs coupled with fundraising that is values-focused, has strong core beliefs, and has a long term focus.

Or to put it into an equation, here’s the working recipe for high donor retention:
Values-focused fundraising + Recurring donor program = High donor retention

From: “Retention is Broken and There’s One Way to Fix It” featuring Nathan Hill, NextAfter 

2. Go back to the basics

Sometimes the most radical thing we can do is really not so radical at all. “Go back to the basics!”, in the words of the great football coach of the Green Bay Packers, Vince Lombardi.

When planning your year-end campaign, don’t overcomplicate it. Think fundamentally.

Why? software integrations memoryfox blackbaud
Who (is this for)?

Start with these three to ground your campaign planning.

Lay out your campaign with this formula:
(Dream outcome) * (perceived likelihood of success) / (effort & sacrifice) * (friction)

Session: “The Simplest 1-Person Year-End Fundraising Playbook You’ve Ever Seen” featuring Eric Linssen, Community Boost

1.  Challenge your thinking around cheap

In the nonprofit world, we tend to default to “the less it costs, the better it is”. But is cheap always the right answer? Film director Stephen Gyllenhaal actively encouraged the audience to think about when in life we want cheap. “If you’re doing something really important – surgery – do you want cheap? How about taking care of your kids?”, he questioned. “So this idea that cheap is good is a dumb idea. Period.”

If we want more dollars to serve more people then we need to invest in fundraising to have more dollars to reach more people and make a bigger impact. Stephen closed out, “The next time you’re looking at a charity, don’t ask about the rate of their overhead, ask about the scale of their dreams.”

Session: “Live Virtual Q/A with Stephen Gyllenhaal, Kathleen Gyllenhaal, & Rudy Espinoza” from Uncharitable (the movie) & Inclusive Action for the City

Fox Tip: Schedule a staff meeting. Go around the table suggesting one thing you want to invest in for organizational growth. Identify the 3 most popular and work those into next year’s budget.

Making real change starts with trying something radical. Some of these may push the limits of your comfort zone, but nothing radical usually is ever easy. But to echo the words of Seth Godin, “The cost of being wrong is tiny. The benefit is huge.”

natalie monroe memoryfox

About the Author

Natalie Monroe
Community Engagement Manager, MemoryFox

Natalie landed in nonprofit with the military-to-agriculture movement, where she told the stories of veterans-turned-farmers feeding our country. Here she embraced content creation and the power of video messaging. When she’s not immersed in storytelling, you might find her volunteering with the local library friends in her community of Davis, California. Natalie would love to connect with you on LinkedIn!