Year in Review: 5 Big Moments for Nonprofits in 2020

Year in Review: 5 Big Moments for Nonprofits in 2020

There will be a lot written about the events of 2020, and about the losses and hardships that every one of us suffered in one way or another. But while we cannot forget the challenges that this year brought, it’s also important to remember the good that was done. Nonprofits everywhere worked tirelessly to continue supporting their communities, and that work deserves to be celebrated. At the same time, a number of movements gained momentum, and many social issues were looked at through a new lens. 

Before we leave this difficult year behind, let’s take a moment to reflect. Here are some of the biggest moments for the nonprofit community in 2020, and what they signal for 2021. 

1. Community spirit and generosity soared in the face of challenge

An image of the UK's Captain Tom Moore finishing his fundraiser for the NHS.

Captain Tom Moore completes the 100th lap of his garden. (Photograph by Emma Sohl, Capture The Light Photography, via Captain Tom’s Twitter)

Despite the hardships that they faced, countless people went above and beyond in 2020 to support nonprofits and their communities. 

In Scotland, people volunteered in record numbers in the early months of the pandemic, with 76,000 registering to support various nonprofits, community groups, the British Red Cross, and the National Health Service (NHS) by May. In England, World War II veteran Captain Tom Moore set out to raise £1,000 for NHS Charities Together by completing 100 laps of his garden before his 100th birthday—winding up raising nearly £33 million. And in the U.S., 34.8 million people donated to nonprofits on Giving Tuesday—a 29% increase over 2019—raising $2.47 billion. 

The Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP) also reported a 12.6% increase in the number of new donors compared to one year ago, and a 19.2% increase in contributions from donors giving smaller gifts. Throughout the year, people gave what they could, whether that was $10 here and there or a few hours of their time.

Of course, not every organization saw an increase in donations or volunteers this year, and many have struggled to continue delivering their programs. But we can hope that this overall surge in goodwill will carry into 2021 and beyond, helping nonprofits recover from the impact of COVID-19 so that they can help their communities recover, too.

2. The racial equity movement came to the forefront of the global conversation 

An image of a young girl standing in front of a memorial mural for George Floyd.

A mural and memorial to George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minneapolis. (Photograph by Xena Goldman, via Mpls.St.Paul Magazine)

After the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and far too many other black individuals across America caused a global outcry earlier this year, the racial equity movement gained incredible momentum, with as many as 26 million people taking to the streets to protest in the U.S. alone. As a result, organizations dedicated to racial equity, justice, and anti-racism received billions of dollars in donations from major companies, celebrities, and members of the public. 

While 2020 was a pivotal year for the movement and the many nonprofits that work tirelessly to promote social change, there is still a long way to go. Sustained public attention is necessary to keep moving the needle and drive action from policymakers. 

3. Mental health awareness had a watershed moment

An infographic from Mind showing that 1.7 million people viewed its mental health resource hub since its launch in March 2020.

Demand for mental health resources spiked in 2020. (Graphic via Mind)

The events of 2020 took a toll on mental and emotional wellbeing, with the mounting mental health crisis being dubbed a “second pandemic.” Mind, a British nonprofit that provides support and advice to those experiencing a mental health issue, reported more than 1.7 million visits to its new information hub since it launched in March, while its resources for children and young people were viewed over 62,000 times. 

One positive thing that has come out of this is increased public awareness around the importance of adequate mental health support. Suddenly, people everywhere were experiencing the effects of sustained isolation, loneliness, stress, and anxiety and recognizing just how debilitating they can be. Many responded by supporting emergency fundraising appeals from mental health-focused nonprofits; Mind, for example, raised £26 million to help fund its confidential information and support lines and digital resources. It’s also possible that this moment will help banish the stigma surrounding mental health disorders, making it easier for people to ask for help when they’re struggling. 

4. Nonprofits found success with virtual events

A banner for NORD's virtual patient and family forum.

Virtual events took center stage in 2020. (Graphic via NORD)

The global health crisis left nonprofit organizations everywhere facing a difficult choice earlier this year: cancel their events, postpone them and hope for the best, or try to take them online. This led many to experiment with virtual events, in some cases for the very first time. And while this undoubtedly involved some trial and error, a recent report from OneCause found that 70% of organizations described their virtual events as successful.

One upside of this pivot was the ability to reach people who might not have been able to attend an in-person event, like those living in another country or unable to travel. For example, by taking its annual Living Rare, Living Stronger NORD Patient and Family Forum online, the National Organization for Rare Disorders (NORD) saw attendees tuning in from all over the world. Successes like this open up new possibilities for organizations to expand their reach, with hybrid events likely to become a popular choice in the future. 

5. The LinkedIn for Nonprofits community on LinkedIn grew to 41,000+ members

A thank you from LinkedIn for Nonprofits for being part of our nonprofit community.

Throughout 2020, the team at LinkedIn for Nonprofits has been inspired by the incredible work done by the nonprofit community. To help support this work, we wanted to create a digital space where nonprofit leaders and professionals could gather, connect, and find the resources they need to change the world. That’s why we created the LinkedIn for Nonprofits page on LinkedIn—and we’re humbled to say we already have more than 41,000 members from around the globe.

If you’re not already part of our online community, we’d love to welcome you. You can follow LinkedIn for Nonprofits on LinkedIn and Facebook, where you can join the conversation with like-minded nonprofit professionals, find details about our upcoming #BetterTogether nonprofit events, and ensure you never miss the latest resource. 

As this difficult year draws to a close, we’re here to support you. If we can help you with your hiring, marketing, fundraising, or learning and development needs, get in touch with one of our nonprofit consultants who can tell you more about solutions.

Take your nonprofit to the next level with LinkedIn for Nonprofits. Get started.