2018 Fundraising Trends: 5 Shifts That Will Impact Your Fundraising

Tina Jepson
Tina Jepson

As fundraisers, we have our work cut out for us. While outsiders may think all we do is mix and mingle with our major donors, in reality, fundraising is about building relationships, analyzing data, creating strategies, understanding what’s going on in the world, and adapting to the philanthropic needs of our donor base.

When we hear about a jump in stock market numbers or learn that a new business is coming into town, we know this could mean positive news for our fundraising efforts. On the other hand, talk of war, changes in the tax code, or any other change or glimmer of instability can easily have us shaking in our boots.

That being said, you could say that 2017 was a year of chaos for nonprofits. The stock market continued to rise, as did property values. The unemployment rate is at remarkable lows. All great! But an unpredictable domestic and international political landscape had many potential donors hesitant to give.

Will 2018 be any different? Only time will tell. However, we were inspired by the 2017 Global Trends in Giving Report. Sponsored by NP Tech for Good, this annual report helps shed light on what donors are looking for in the nonprofits and charities they support. The information presented here shows an overall positive outlook for our industry.

Let’s take a more in-depth look at five specific trends that will impact your fundraising in 2018.

1. Changes In How We Use Social Media

Ten years back, when Facebook was just becoming a mainstream social media platform, we could have never imagined how influential social media would become in our lives. Who knew we’d access Snapchat snaps, Facebook posts, Instagrams, and YouTube videos from mobile devices on an almost obsessive basis?

Unfortunately, all this social connectivity isn’t helping our mental health. As a remedy, adults and teens alike are taking prolonged breaks from social media on a regular basis to recharge and reduce overall anxiety.

Couple this trend with the fact that social media platforms naturally prioritize the activity from friends and family over your nonprofits, and it’s easy to see that your organization isn’t getting the visibility you had even a year or so ago.

Do This In 2018: Start shifting some (not all) of your fundraising away from your social media profiles. Instead, ask your supporters to share their versions of your nonprofit story, your campaign, etc. on their personal pages, through email, and in-person. The Motherhood Collective asked their volunteers to share stories of why they support TMC and raised over $20,000 in just a few weeks.

2. Continued Focus on Email

Here’s some great news for you: all your email fundraising efforts are paying off. You may have heard that email isn’t an effective way to capture donations, that it’s more about the “touch” than the actual gift. Thankfully, this is far from the truth.

According to a study by Durham & Company, 28% of donors were motivated to give through an email in 2016, compared with a measly 6% in 2010. That number jumped 40% from 2015 to 2016. Also, email also accounts for 26% of all online revenue (that percentage is also expected to increase!)

Email isn’t dead after all! Yippee!

Do This in 2018: Forget about simply maintaining your email output. Instead, ramp up production and follow these fundraising email best practices.

3. The Internet of Things

If you haven’t yet heard about The Internet of Things, it’s time to put this concept on your radar. The idea that one day, very soon, all of our devices, appliances, cars, will all be connected to the internet is a very real thing. Not shockingly, Forbes is reporting that 2018 will be a “massive” year for the Internet of Things, with mass adoption estimated within five to 10 years.

What does this mean for your nonprofit? Data.

The Internet of Things provides your nonprofit with a much clearer picture of your supporters. By understanding what makes your donor base tick, including their inspirations, affinities, and habits, you can specifically cater marketing efforts and the products you offer. You know how we always mention donor segmentation as a way to fuel engagement and retention? That segmentation should get a whole lot easier throughout this year and the next decade!

Do This In 2018: Ramp up your data tracking. If you don’t have a CSM software program, look into your options. Otherwise, continue tracking as much as you can about your donors, from basic demographics to giving schedule, preferred communication methods, etc.

4. Digital Payments

Online revenue made up 7.2% of all donations received in 2016 and more donors are accessing the internet (meaning your website, donation pages, crowdfunding site, etc.) on mobile devices than desktops. Again, these are another two trends expected to continue rising in the years to come.

All this begs the question: how are you capturing online donations? Keep in mind, as more and more donor expect to make digital payments to your organization in the future, it’s up to you to cater to their needs. After all, you don’t want to miss out on donations because your donation page isn’t optimized for mobile or another similar (highly fixable) problem.

Do This in 2018: Ensure your donation page is user-friendly. To do this, follow donation page best practices, including mobile optimization, limited fields, and safe, secure payment processing.

5. Realize Your Donor Base Is Shifting

Move over Baby Boomers! While this generation was once the backbone of your donor base for the past few decades, members of Generation X are now the most charitable, volunteer-inclined supporters. As more Baby Boomers leave the workplace and head into retirement, members of Generation X and Millennials have taken their places.

Naturally, as the income of these newer generations grows, so does their desire and ability to donate to charitable causes. The key is to appeal to them— and truly meet them where they are. These generations appreciate things like learning the impact of their gift, connecting online, and the ability to give easily and/or automatically such as through a recurring giving program.

Do This In 2018: Take a look at your fundraising plan to ensure you’re catering to your average donor. Try some segmentation techniques to cater certain campaigns to different demographics, such as a peer-to-peer campaign for your Millennials or a Generation X-geared online action. Continue collecting and analyzing donor data to monitor your donor base and adjust your fundraising as needed.

There you have it! These five shifts are bound to impact your fundraising moving forward in 2018. Your job is to assess and adapt to ensure you’re continuing to meet the needs of your donors and the goals of your organization. I’m hopeful for 2018, and I hope you are too!

To keep up with the latest fundraising trends and online fundraising product innovations, follow the CauseVox blog and Learning Center.

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