Our team had a chance to talk with nonprofit executive, development, and marketing leaders last week. We discussed lessons learned in 2020—especially thinking about what seemingly temporary changes might in fact become permanent such as remote working and virtual meetings.

Many executives said board meeting attendance has improved dramatically since moving to the virtual format and they plan to continue virtual meetings even when we can gather together. Other leaders talked about the forced shift from dependency on fundraising events to a greater emphasis on peer-to-peer fundraising and one-on-one meetings with donors. As one executive director said, “I have been preaching this to my board for years and it took a pandemic to convince them.”

Although many leaders plan to maintain virtual environments into the future, many said they had struggled to find ways to build team and replicate the social interaction of in-person sessions. Suggestions of building fun into every agenda were offered including versions of games Would You Rather, Have You Ever, and Family Feud, cooking your meal together and then eating during the meeting, custom cocktails, and many more. As one leader said, “We have a built-in excuse to be creative, so let’s take advantage of it.”

In the end we asked one single question: Are you hopeful as we enter into 2021? After 17 years of partnering with nonprofits, we know that most leaders are optimistic by nature. Even so, we were encouraged by their responses. Our nonprofit sector knows there is much work to be done to improve our divided, ailing, and hurting communities, but they are encouraged by the changes in elected officials, the promise of a taming of the pandemic, and a call to greater inclusion and solidarity with one another. We join these leaders in feeling hopeful.

Our mantra is the same in 2021: #DoGreatThings. We know that the marginalized in our communities are counting on us to deliver, and we know that together it is possible.

Hope is a choice. Action to turn hope into results is our collective responsibility. We are hopeful that 2021 will be a year of action for us all.

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