In the nonprofit world, the phrase “fundraising trends” often triggers one of two responses: excitement in organizations that are primed and ready to reap the rewards, and apprehension in organizations that sense they must brace for impact as donation dollars invariably flow elsewhere. And to a large extent, many organizations are somewhere in the middle: ahead of the curve on some fronts, and behind it on others.
If your organization is not confidently positioned on the vanguard of the trends that lay ahead, then be assured it is not necessary to hit the panic button. There is still time to embrace, and ultimately, exploit the following 5 fundraising trends that will definitively shape the years to come:
1. Rising Importance of Online Payment Processing Tools
The future of fundraising will be dominated by more payment processing tools that make it easier and faster to donate, such as tools like PayPal, Network for Good and Google Wallet. Blackbaud’s 2014 Charitable Giving Report found that online giving increased nearly 9 percent from 2013 to 2014, and M+R's 2015 Benchmark Study found a 13% increase in the number of online gifts. But, you must look closely at the fees associated with each transaction and make sure the tool fits into your finances.
2. Millennial Donors are Increasingly Important – and Challenging
For virtually all nonprofit organizations – but especially university and college development offices – it will continue to be increasingly important, yet also increasingly challenging, to engage Millenials. Contrary to popular belief, this is not because Millenials are self-absorbed, drowning in debt, or tight-fisted. On the contrary, according to Blackbaud’s Next Generation of American Giving report, Millenials donate on average $481 each year. It is therefore a question of engaging them on their terms and getting them emotionally invested in your cause, which is a topic we have explored here.
3. Online Platforms Need to Support Campaigns
While direct mail and other offline strategies will remain important, nonprofits must support – or sometimes lead – their campaigns through their digital properties; most notably their website and social media pages. To this end, their website must be professional, optimized, fast-loading and responsive (i.e. viewable across devices and platforms), and their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other pages must be regularly populated with fresh, engaging content. And of course, all of these digital properties must be configured with sophisticated back end tracking and analytics tools that go beyond delivering basic traffic and page view statistics.
4. Annual Giving is Shifting to an All-Year Effort
In the distant past, some nonprofits could “ease up” a little during the early summer and early fall months, before hitting the accelerator and going in hard for their end-of-year seasonal campaigns or spring campaigns. But now, fundraising is essentially a non-stop year ‘round effort – because there is always data to crunch, campaigns to plan, content to generate, target lists to create and so forth. Furthermore – and again, we are back to the Millennial story – younger donors are generally less conventional than their predecessors. They do not necessarily wait until traditional giving season before thinking about making a donation, nor do they necessarily time their donations to maximize tax benefits. If and when they determine that donating is the right thing to do (i.e. when doing so is aligned with how emotionally invested they are in your cause), then they will tap a button on their tablet or smartphone. Nonprofits therefore have to be “open for business” donation-wise 365 days a year.
5. Predictive Analytics is a Must
Understanding the capacity of potential donors is no longer enough. Nonprofits must use a predictive analytics engine to determine their WILLINGNESS to donate, and ultimately use this data to generate precise ask amounts for each donor– which have been proven to be far more effective than providing open-ended or standard tiered ask amounts. For example, Connecticut-based Salisbury School used custom ask amounts as part of a campaign that saw the participation rate jump from 8% to 17%, and the amount of donors contributing $100 or more skyrocketed 43%. And that is definitely a trend headed in the right direction!
In the coming weeks, we will explore some of these trends in more detail – such as analysis of popular online payment processing tools and more.
For now, your nonprofit organization can use the above as both a map of emerging fundraising trends. So, one question - will your nonprofit be reaping the rewards or bracing for impact?