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Learning from 2021 for a Successful 2022

Posted by on December 14th, 2021
Posted in Blog, Foundations, Independent Schools, Nonprofit Branding, Nonprofit Training   

After 2020, 2021 was all about regrouping and reconnecting, but not in the ways we once did. 

This year required nonprofits, schools, and foundations to problem solve creatively, be nimble and adaptive, and above all, lead with compassion to better connect and meet the needs of all in a pandemic that is affecting each of us differently. As organizations, 2021 invited us to lean into our values to bring constituents together around a shared mission.

At Mission Minded, we have had the great privilege of continuing to serve organizations that improve our communities and have seen them tap into and leverage their brand to bring their communities together in authentic and meaningful ways.

This past year, we noticed themes of success for nonprofits of every kind: clear organization and community alignment, and bold and courageous decision-making. Here are five insights on those themes from our team to yours to help you plan for a successful 2022:

As organizations were continually challenged with changing work environments and pandemic stressors for employees, we saw leadership rising to the occasion to support their staff in new and creative ways. There was an emphasis on people over product, affirmation of values, and re-articulation of vision and values. With increased workforce mobility, 2022 will demand even more focus on retention and what matters most to organizations and the people they serve. If you aren’t already asking and listening to what your stakeholders need from you making that a priority now is a must.”

This year we saw more nonprofits and schools recognize the power of syncing their strategic plan with their brand strategy. This helps them align resources and inspire their community, and we expect this to continue in 2022 and beyond. How can you strengthen your own rebranding, strategic plan, or both by thinking more broadly about how they interact?”

Our clients embraced the idea that launching your brand is as important as developing the strategy itself. A carefully considered rollout can create so much more awareness and excitement than a brand launched in small increments. You’ve run 3/4 of the race updating your brand; don’t peter out in the last few miles!”

Working with clients like The Rhodes Trust at Oxford University and the Pritzker Traubert Foundation in Chicago, we’re seeing more organizations willing to make big, audacious bets on courageous, collaborative leadership. Instead of calculated bets on individuals or programs that fit nicely into a theory of change, in 2022, we’re expecting even more investment in initiatives that bring together diverse thinkers who can guide their communities to work together to solve big, unwieldy challenges.”

Nonprofit mergers are on the rise as many organizations recognize the power and efficiency of working together toward a shared mission, especially in the wake of COVID-19. The most successful mergers we’ve witnessed are always guided by shared core values that help activate their vision from the start. Prioritize your values if you’re considering a merger to identify right-fit partners and set a plan for long-term success.”

Ultimately, in a noisy and ever-shifting world, being aligned with your community and stakeholders has never mattered more for mission success. Additionally, not shying away from bold and courageous decision-making has served to define who organizations are at the core and, equally, who they are not. Make authentically living shared values your 2022 focus and watch as the positive impact help you in every aspect of your work.

Share your thoughts in the comments below! We’re thankful to you for reading along with us this year, and look forward to continuing to bring you fresh insights on our blog in the new year. Cheers!


Jennie Winton is a Founding Partner of Mission Minded, a 25-year marketing veteran sought for her expertise in branding nonprofit organizations, and a one-on-one leadership coach.

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