Fundraising Planning In 2018: Top Trends For Your Nonprofit To Consider

The New Year is a chance to review your fundraising success from last year and evaluate what worked and what didn’t. While you take stock, you should always consider new trends that affect your work. Here are the major trends in giving and fundraising you need to think about to evaluate – and potentially redesign – your fundraising plan this New Year.

nonprofit trends 2018 fundraising planning

1. Philanthropy is on the rise – but in certain areas only

Peruse The Philanthropy Outlook for 2017 and 2018. Marts & Lundy and Indiana University’s the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy started publishing this comprehensive research analysis a few years ago. Major takeaways  include:

  • Total giving went up 3.6 percent in 2017 and is projected increase 3.8 percent in 2018.
  • Giving by individuals and households is dropping slightly, with an increase in planned giving and estate giving.
  • Private foundation giving is going to go up, though corporate giving will remain a bit stagnant.
  • The education and health sectors are receiving the biggest boosts in giving.

Those are extremely important points to analyze as you plan your fundraising strategy this year. Philanthropy is rising, but in certain areas and in certain ways. People, mostly older generations, are giving more of their time and estates than dollar contributions.  And people, foundations, and corporations alike are shifting their giving priorities to what they see as more important and pressing – public/private gaps in health care and education.

Think about how you can link maybe to those particular areas. Do you have a planned giving strategy? If not, this could be the time to incorporate one into your fundraising plan!

2. Still much more funding from older generations – plan to reach them

This point needs to be highlighted because it is critical to your fundraising success. While it might seem young people are top givers, they are not.

Blackbaud’s amazing generational infographic clearly shows that a clear majority of philanthropy (69 percent) comes from people 49 years old and up. The Baby Boomers (49-67) contribute 43 percent, and “matures” (68 years and up) contribute 26 percent. 88 percent of matures give, and they give more and to more charities. So even though there are fewer older people in our population, they are worth targeting because they are more likely to give.

Plus they are not just more likely to give, but they give more. Giving goes up by age. While 60 percent and 59 percent of younger generations give, they make up small percentages of the philanthropic total because they do not give a lot. The youngest, generation Y, gives an average of $481. Boomers give $1,212. Matures give $1,367.

Analyze the age of your donors if you can. Then segment them accordingly. You will want to apply different engagement and cultivation strategies based on age and personal interests. The key is to know your donors – and how to reach them best!

3. Moving away from checks – finally! Plan for shifts to online and mobile giving

The age of givers has, for years, kept the paper check as the primary means of giving. Finally, the check has been put in check! More and more seniors are connected to the Internet. They are not only on Facebook and email but are giving through websites. Blackbaud’s study on generational giving shows that even Boomers have moved to online giving – nearly half give online only. The Federal Reserve published that the use in checks dropped from 46 percent of non-cash transactions in 2003 to only 15 percent by 2012.  The majority in younger generations never write checks. This is one area where people have been forced to move ahead with technology, whether they like change or not. Nearly all of America banks online.

So what does that mean for your nonprofit this year? You need to improve and elaborate on your alternate means of giving, including, in order of importance:

  • Your online giving page. People are much more likely to give to you if your website is well organized and efficient. If you haven’t updated your site in a while, here are some tips for cleaning up your website. And while you’re at it, make sure you optimize your landing page.
  • Mobile friendly giving methods. Not only do you need to make sure that your online giving page is mobile friendly, but you should think about creating SMS campaigns. People have to go online or seek you from a click in an email, tweet, or other communication to go to your online giving page. But if you send them an SMS fundraiser directly, you can reach them anytime and anywhere! (Read our article on deciding whether or not SMS fundraisers are right for your nonprofit and how to set one up.)
  • Social media reach. Peer-to-peer fundraising is growing in its scope, and you need to take advantage with at least a Facebook page if you haven’t gotten around to it yet! (Read our article on setting up a Facebook page.) Once you grow your social networks you open up opportunities to let friends and volunteers fundraise for you, which is phenomenally cost effective and gets more people involved in your cause.

4. Online security is now critical in fundraising planning

Hacking and data security are daily topics in the news. That is why Google made it obligatory in 2017 for sites that collect credit card information to encrypt their data. You won’t even pop up on a Google search if you are not taking steps to secure information! Donors will immediately be warned that your site is not safe as well.

The National Council of Nonprofits published a good article guide with resources for organizations of all shapes and sizes to analyze their data risk and to take steps to improve data security.  You should identify what your key risk areas are. Then safen your site.

5. Big Data – What it is and why your nonprofit needs to use it in fundraising planning

Big data sounds scary. But all it means is that bigger and faster computers and new software can now analyze sets of information that we previously could not put together. Nonprofits need to get on this bandwagon. Nearly every marketing/advertising firm in the developed world has already jumped on.

Umbel published an article on how your nonprofit can use big data. You can simply utilize your social media networks better, for one example. New technologies allow you to search through all Facebook users, LinkedIn accounts, or other similar data sets to find people that mention “women’s rights” or something else your nonprofit cares about. Then you can target those prospects with a messaging campaign. Applications of this sort are endless, and can help you not only find the people that care about your cause, but reach them in the most cost-effective way possible!

Read up on big data applications and set a goal to improve at least one fundraising tactic this year with information alone.  As Information Enterprise wisely blogged, “data can also be used to increase personalization – vital not only in attracting first time donors, but also in retaining them.”

That quote, in a nutshell, describes the future of fundraising – using technology, data, and our ever mobilizing world not to alienate, but to bring us closer. They are all tools to increase your nonprofit’s capacity to not just achieve your mission, but to connect people to your impact. In the process you will attract loyal donors and friends for your cause.


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