As we get ready to say farewell to 2015 and embrace 2016, we feel this is the ideal time to take a step back, gaze into our crystal ball, and see what trends, dynamics and developments will shape the year ahead in the nonprofit marketing-fundraising world.
Below, we present our top 5 predictions for 2016:
1. Nonprofits will Embrace Big Data in a Big Way
While Big Data has been used by marketing professionals in the private sector for a few years, in 2016 we anticipate that it will make a massive, profound entry in the nonprofit world. Fundraising managers and other decision-makers will leverage affordable and easy-to-use Big Data tools and technologies – just like their private sector counterparts – to mine and manage donor data with unprecedented precision and results.
At the same time, rather than being left out of the strategic planning discussion, nonprofit marketers who effectively leverage Big Data will find that executive directors, board members, and other senior stakeholders will be proactively consulting them for advice and direction; especially around budget planning and marketing investment options.
2. Mobile Makes its Mark
While many private sector businesses have embraced the mobile revolution – if not by choice, than by necessit– many nonprofits have either resisted the Mobile Movement, or have been focusing resources and attention on other priorities (i.e. offline marketing campaigns, etc.).
However, in 2016, we predict that mobile will make a definitive mark in the nonprofit world, and all organizations – regardless of size – will focus on ensuring that their website is responsive and optimized for tablets and smartphones. Some of the more progressive nonprofits will also focus on creating apps and widgets to enhance their branding and donor outreach efforts.
3. Video Comes of Age
For many years, online video has been viewed (and not just by nonprofit organizations) as a “nice to have” marketing element that, frankly, is not as important or valuable as mainstays such as newsletters, direct mail, and so on.
However, in 2016 we see this changing in a big way – largely because Millennials are very pro-video, and gravitate towards organizations that cater to this demand. We recommend using short video segments (no more than 60 seconds) to entice younger viewers.
In a separate but related trend, we also anticipate that nonprofits will really start to leverage live streaming, which makes community and donor outreach more dynamic, interactive and exciting - recently Facebook released a live streaming feature for brands, so this area will definitely pick up steam in 2016.
4. Content Takes Over the Royal Family
Every nonprofit knows that “content is king”, and spends a great deal of time and money on creating compelling, informative and influential “stories” that are told through various channels and documents.
However, in 2016 we predict that content will become so important – as competition for donor attention gets even more ferocious – that it will basically take over the entire royal family. In other words, forget content merely being king. In 2016, it will be the queen, prince and princess as well. In fact, throw in the whole court! Either invest in-house, find a website (i.e. Canva), or find an agency that can create high quality infographics, visuals, and story-telling content that capture the heart of your donors.
5. Predicted Ask Amounts become Standard
For decades, when soliciting donors, nonprofits have used standard tiered ask amounts, or relied on a complex formula based on historical donor information.
In 2016, both of these methods will give way to a categorically superior approach, which involves leveraging donor information, online behavior data and publicly available information (e.g. Census data) to generate precise, scientifically-backed ask amounts. Nonprofits will then plug in these "predicted ask amounts" into direct marketing and annual giving campaigns in order to garner the maximum donation from each donor.
Naturally, as with any year, 2016 will be full of developments that we anticipated – and those that come as a surprise. However, we are confident that when the calendar is ready to flip over to 2017, we will look back on the year that was and see that the 5 trends above have taken root, and most importantly, profoundly improved how nonprofits operate, conduct business, and carry out their essential fundraising efforts.