2017 Fundraising Trends: 10 Opportunities For Nonprofits, Charities, & NGOs

Tina Jepson
Tina Jepson

Today it seems like the options for reaching donors are virtually unlimited. We can meet up for coffee, host an event, make a phone call, shoot out an email, blast a Tweet, post a video on YouTube, organize a Facebook LIVE event and the list goes on and on. It’s a far cry from the days when we’d mail out a pamphlet and pledge card, cross our fingers, and hope for the best.

Our methods for resource development have evolved over the years because of many factors including, but not limited to, the economy, technology, and politics.

It’s safe to say that we’re living in a time of great advancements in technology (particularly the internet and our reliance/obsession with mobile devices) coupled with political and economic uncertainty. Stocks are at an unprecedented high. Trust in the government is trending low. Though at times it feels like all of us in the nonprofit world are just trying to hold on and keep up, it’s nice to see some bright lights.

And that’s what we’re giving you here— 10 fundraising trend “bright lights”. Things are looking up in 2017 for nonprofits, charities, and NGOs. Here’s how you can capitalize on it all:

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1. An Overall Increase in Individual Giving

We are living in a time of political change, but this isn’t necessarily translating into smaller donations. On the contrary, the Philanthropy Outlook 2016 & 2017 predicts that an increase in individual and household income will help to boost fundraising efforts for nonprofits, charities, and NGOs by as much as 3.8% in 2017.

Make the prediction of an increase in individual giving work for you by:

  • Planning fundraising campaigns that inspire and rally donors
  • Focusing on donor retention strategies to keep your current donors active and engaged (read more about this below)
  • Ask your donors to stretch. Campaign for returning donors to make a gift increase, such as 5% or 10%

2. An Overall Increase in Corporate Giving

GDP is up, business savings are increasing— and these factors have a direct and significant impact on corporate giving. Again, researchers are anticipating an upward trend of giving, with total corporate giving predicted to rise by 4.7% in 2017.

Any fundraiser who weathered the storm that was the Great Recession knows that fundraising since 2008/2009 has been extremely tough. We didn’t bounce back from pre-recession rates of giving until 2014. Even then, retention rates still haven’t fully rebounded. But as the stock market hits all-time records, companies are finally beginning to breathe a sigh of relief which can really help your organization.

Make the prediction of an increase in corporate giving work for you by:

  • Ensuring that you capture all company gift matches. Ask donors to check their company policy and submit the paperwork to potentially double their donation. If you know your donor’s employer, you can do the research for them using a service like
  • Invite leaders from your business community to a lunch and learn. Explain your work, your impact, and your need. Know exactly how much you need from your corporate partners to meet your budgetary goals.
  • Keep updated on new businesses that come into town. Follow your Chamber of Commerce’s website and read the newspaper to learn about the latest ventures that plan to set up shop nearby. When you’re “in the know,” you’ll quickly learn who to contact when the time comes to ask for a gift.

3. The Growth Of People Fundraising

We built CauseVox to inspire, activate, and rally supporters behind your mission because we realize it’s the relationships you form with a donor that will elevate your fundraising efforts to the next level. The focus on relationships and leveraging those connections to increase your audience is what defines People Fundraising.

Here at CauseVox, we believe that People Fundraising is the future of fundraising. When you give your donors a voice, you’re reaching both current and future donors on a personal level.

Make People Fundraising work for you by:

  • Running a peer-to-peer fundraiser
  • Asking supporters to share your campaign and a personal message about their connection to your cause on social media
  • Creating a hashtag that supporters can use on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram that brings in a wider audience

4. A Decrease In The Effectiveness Of Organic Social Media Marketing

Earlier in 2016, we posted about how to work with Facebook’s ever-changing newsfeed algorithm. But really, it isn’t just Facebook that is promoting organic content — Instagram, Pinterest, almost all social media platforms are prioritizing the posts of your audience’s friends and family over that of your nonprofit

People are still using social media. But your nonprofit’s reach isn’t going to be like it was a few years ago.

Make the trend of decreasing engagement in social media work for you by:

  • Purchasing ads and targeting your key demographics on social media
  • Creating shareable, viral-worthy content
  • Asking supporters to engage with and share your content

5. A Need To Plan Engagement Opportunities

It’s a hard truth to swallow, but nonprofits, charities, and NGOs are everywhere. In a way, that’s a good thing. With an uncertain political atmosphere, charitable organizations may be called on to step up (even more) in areas such as women’s health, poverty assistance, immigration, the arts, and sciences.

And every single one of these organizations will need to rely on donations to offset what could potentially be a significant decrease in government grants and other aid. Therefore, you don’t just need to fundraise, you need to STAND OUT.

We suggest you take this impending shift as a call-to-action to ramp up your engagement efforts.

Use engagement opportunities as a tool to retain current supporters, capture new donors, and bring back givers. Create a varied schedule of activities depending on your average donor demographics. You want to keep supporters active and wondering what’s going to happen next.

Make the focus of donor engagement work for you by:

  • Asking donors to volunteer to help the population/place you serve. Ask volunteers to assist in cleaning and stocking your domestic violence shelter. Have families come create flashcards for your subsidized preschool facility. Sweat equity goes a long way in helping your organization while also connecting with donors.
  • Offering opportunities to engage in advocacy efforts. Allow and encourage supporters to BE YOUR VOICE. It can be as simple as a petition or as big as a march.
  • Connecting and interacting with donors online. Your social media accounts are your sounding board. Create relevant content that inspires your donors and encourages them to share with friends and family.

6. The Ongoing Increase In Donor Retention Rates

Donor retention rates are at the highest rate since 2008— a steady 45.9%. While we’d all like to see this number higher, this increase (from 45.7% in 2014) indicates that retention is has become a priority for nonprofits and charities.

At CauseVox, we can’t stress enough how important donor retention is for your organization. As you plan your 2017 fundraising activities, remember to constantly be thinking of ways to incorporate elements that promote donor retention.

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Make the upward trend of donor retention work for you by:

  • Personalizing the giving experience. Always address your donor by name, acknowledge previous gifts, reach out to donors with their preferred communication method.
  • Educating your donor about impact with videos, infographics, pamphlets, etc.
  • Activating donors with engagement opportunities (see #5 above) such as volunteering, advocating, fundraising, etc.

7. A Switch To Mobile Optimization Across The Board

Nonprofits have been slow to jump into the mobile optimization trend. If you haven’t begun to mobilize your website and emails for mobile, now is the time. Keep in mind that mobile giving makes up 17% of all online giving, and that’s a figure projected to increase in 2017.

Make mobile optimization trends work for you by:

8. A Projected Increase In Monthly/Recurring Giving

Monthly giving will continue increasing per the 2016 M+R Benchmarks report. In fact, monthly giving accounts for 17% of all online revenue and in 2015, monthly revenue grew by 24% across all sectors, compared to 18% growth in one-time revenue.

One of the best things about monthly/recurring giving is that no matter the size and scope of your cause, it’s fairly easy to implement a program.

Make the increase in monthly/recurring giving work for you by:

  • Incorporating a monthly giving strategy into your 20217 annual fundraising plan
  • Making monthly giving the first option your donor sees when they visit your fundraising website.
  • Marketing your monthly giving campaign through eNewsletters, regular email, and direct mail.

9. Making Sharing Your Nonprofit Story A Priority

Recently, nonprofits have really ramped up their storytelling—and we love this. After all, we engineered CauseVox fundraising websites so you have the space to share your story, and thus, inspire donors.

In 2017, make a concerted effort to share your story effectively. Use emotion-inducing language, create common themes and ties between your stories, and don’t forget to tell your donor exactly how their gift plays a role in the solution.

Make the trend of nonprofit storytelling work for you by:

  • Posting new client and other nonprofit stories on your website and on social media
  • Creating videos that show your donors the lives being impacted with their gifts
  • Keeping donors updated on your nonprofit work year-round with a blog.

10. A Focus On Data Collection & “The Internet of Things

Our in-person lives are becoming increasingly connected with our online identities, but nonprofits have notoriously been slow to the party. Maybe it’s because most non-profit work is on the ground. We’re relying on connections. Relationships. Authenticity. And there’s no denying that it’s much easier to develop a bond in-person as opposed to online. Simply put, it seems impossible to form the same donor to nonprofit relationships that we had in the past.

But here’s some food for thought: As the internet, including email and social media, have continued to grow and develop, businesses are now using this as an opportunity to collect data from clients and customers.

DATA— a nonprofit professional’s favorite word. We love data as much as we love when our coworker brings in a plate of her delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies. So as we power through 2017 and beyond, nonprofits must begin to incorporate practices of the internet of things (IoT) like our colleagues in the business world.

According to Nick Morpus of Capterra “The IoT can change the way nonprofits collect that data and just how much data they can get their hands on.”

Make the presence of the Internet of Things (IoT) work for you by:

  • Tracking analytics on your website (sign up for Google Analytics if you haven’t already) and on social media posts. Collect data on who is looking at your content and clarify the demographics you’re reaching, whether on purpose or organically.
  • Using Facebook and Instagram Ads and Business Manager to target ads to donors likely to give (see bullet above)
  • Sharing relevant, inspirational data with donors in real-time. For example, use the Impact Meter on CauseVox to track and share campaign progress in terms of the impact those dollars have. Or, keep a ROI ticker on your website that tracks your return on investment (possibly in lives changed) per the average donation.

Every year, we see new trends in fundraising and 2017 is no different. We know you’re knee-deep in planning for the upcoming calendar year, which is why it’s important to factor in these trends as you craft your calendar. You may decide to put some more money into Facebook Ads, connect your website to Google Analytics, or refresh your corporate giving materials based on expectations and trends for 2017.

If you found this article helpful, check out our other resources:

Have you noticed any of these fundraising trends? What do you expect 2017 to bring for your nonprofit, charity or NGO? Let us know in the comments below.

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