2016 | Fundraising Predictions

Fotolia 2016

I have been sharing my predictions for the coming year since 2012 (click here to read a compilation). Several of those predictions remain the same, while some are less emphasized for 2016.

The good news is, charitable giving has been increasing across all sectors. It is not terribly surprising that an ever-growing number of charitable transactions are taking place online and via mobile device. But, I leave those statistics to the software companies.

My predictions – including a bit of advice – follow.

  • Bitcoin, although still in its infancy in terms of being used by the nonprofit sector, will continue to develop. As CoinDesk noted in 2015, “Bitcoin is a form of digital currency, created and held electronically. No one controls it.” You might enjoy reading Virgin Entrepreneur, “The Future of Payment” (October, 2015). As new ways of making payments affect business globally, so too will they affect how nonprofit donations are made and accepted. As an aside, among those still clinging to cash or check donation payments are religious organizations. I enjoyed learning recently about a promising startup here in Austin, Pass The Plate. This mobile app is designed for churches, missionaries and charities. More innovation in this space is anticipated.
  • In terms of “tech,” TechSoup shares the predictions of several nonprofit leaders in, “The Tech That Will Change 2016” (December 16, 2015). This is an outstanding resource. I agree with most, but not every prediction. For instance, it should come as no surprise that social media is more helpful for learning and communicating, not as much for fundraising, strictly speaking. But, I use social platforms every day. I conduct truly meaningful major gift research on those platforms. I also communicate with donors there. I do not ask for funding, but I do request advice, meetings and more. I am concerned some nonprofits do not take social media seriously, nor do they use it well. But in 2016, that may begin to change. I urge my nonprofit support colleagues to offer more education and training in this arena. For instance, Facebook has become more useful to some nonprofits than their websites. This is something we should all be watching, and of course, each nonprofit is different. You might enjoy, “R.I.P.: 3 Ways Facebook is Killing Your Website” by Jay Baer.
  • My LinkedIn blog post, #2030NOW outlines concerns that remain the same. Yes, donations have risen to levels we have not seen since before the economic meltdown (thank heaven). But are donations being given even more to “safe,” large and well-established nonprofits with large staffs, rather than to innovative, lean and young nonprofits that are more quick to respond to urgent societal needs, and with greater creativity and effectiveness? I believe this is still true. Here’s hoping in 2016 we will see more major donor investment in new ventures! Prediction or wishful thinking: you decide.
  • Disasters are occurring routinely across the globe. Those events will continue to pull charitable donations and donor attention away from other charitable causes. While disaster philanthropy is critically important and worthwhile, going forward, it is my hope and prediction that donors will think smarter about how they give in support of disaster relief by following such reputable organizations as The Center for Disaster Philanthropy. Emotional responses to emergencies are natural human reactions of caring. But disaster relief should be viewed as having its own life-cycle. Advance preparation, immediate response, and ongoing repair are phases donors should consider, not just the emotion of the moment. I urge more thoughtful giving in this arena, and anticipate we will see it in 2016.
  • Some nonprofit organizations dislike major gift philanthropy. They are passionate about their goals and missions. But, they do not wish to follow the “giving pyramid,” a hallmark of most traditional and somewhat “hierarchical” major gift campaigns. They do not want to channel precious energy toward excessive donor cultivation, when they need to focus on getting the job done. Crowdfunding – which actually requires quite a bit of preparation and time to implement (similar to running major gift campaigns, I might add) – will continue to grow in popularity in 2016 and beyond. I also believe the traditional nonprofit consulting industry will continue to be challenged as more nonprofits discover how to, “do it themselves.”
  • Nonprofit organizations need to be educating and cultivating people of all ages. There are more Millennials today than Boomers. But Boomers and older generations still hold the majority of charitable giving dollars. And the latter are also charitably-inclined. Hence, any nonprofit that wishes to make a case for its long-term survival should consider a planned giving program. Those of us who have been involved in fundraising for a number of years know the planned giving field saw some of our sector’s earliest and most innovative tech innovation. Will preparation and estate planning advice can be secured today from several reputable sources. But, new tech is on the horizon! In truth, the vast majority of bequests by Will to charities do not come from the wealthiest, but from the vast majority of people in lesser income brackets. I recently learned about GivingDocs at TechBreakfast Austin. They note,

“… A large cross section of the population [is] in need of a will but unwilling to prepare one. We found that people don’t like to talk about death, especially with their friends or family. In just one weekend, we designed a visual way to create and manage this legal document.”

Will-making made easy as proposed by startups like GivingDocs – where one can make a free, legally-binding Will and designate a charity in 10 minutes or less – makes sense. I expect this concept to take flight in 2016 and beyond.

  • Trust in public charities continues to waver. In addition, eighty-four percent of donors say they make giving decisions based on how much charities spend on compensation, administration, and fundraising. GuideStar cautions charities to, “build on the trust that people already have in them. Every charity needs to state its mission clearly, provide concrete evidence of its effectiveness, and educate the public about complexities that affect its work.” Dan Pallotta and others are fighting “The Overhead Myth.” Take a few minutes to watch Dan’s TED Talk.

In closing, in 2016 I predict Dan and his Charity Defense Council will make headway in changing public opinion about the essential role of “overhead” to attaining a nonprofit’s mission and ultimate goals.

Is this just “wishful thinking”? Let’s hope not!


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