There’s no doubt about it. A lot is changing these days. You can feel it. And the change is affecting all of us personally and professionally. Things are changing in fundraising as well. Which is why we wanted to start off the year with our view of what will look different in fundraising this year:

  1. Donors will continue to demand a closer connection with the impact their gift is making. They’ll want opportunities to see the program (virtually, not just in-person), hear from program coordinators, and see how the work you’re doing is actively addressing the problem. Jeff and I regularly see many non-profits who are proactively resisting reporting on impact as they should. They have not seen the connection between telling the donor she made a difference through her giving and retaining that good donor. Nor have they embraced the simple truth that it is honoring and respectful to talk back to donors about what their giving is doing to solve the problems they are interested in.Those organizations that continue to ignore the implementation of a robust reporting back program will suffer financially.
  2. Donors will support programs that align with their passions and interests. Gone are the days when a donor just gives because “my family has always given to that organization”. Or “I have always given to them; they are a good organization.” Now, donors are getting personally involved with the “who” they donate to. And the “who” aligns with what they are interested in.
  3. Donors will want more authentic relationships with the non-profits they support. This means transparency, disclosure, respect, more immediate answers to queries, admission of mistakes, increased partnership, focus on solving societal problems vs. just grabbing the money, etc. You know what I am talking about here and what authenticity means in your organization. You know it. Now, just do it. And leaders who embrace this kind of culture will see their financial picture get better as donors stay longer and give more.
  4. Fundraisers will need to see donors more holistically and establish inter-department collaboration to speak to this. A planned giving donor can also be a major gifts donor and vice versa. A donor who pledges $10 a month to a membership program may also be a donor who gives $10,000 to a specific program they are interested in. Department or function managers will need to have the data support and policy and procedure alignment to create strategies that manage a donor from their point of view and their experience not from the non-profits siloed view.
  5. Events will continue to decline as a key strategy for donor engagement, retention and upgrading. As fundraising leaders and managers become more aware of the need of donors to seek fulfillment in their giving, they will begin to use events as awareness and public relations tactics vs. fundraising strategies. The content of events will move to being cause related vs. activity (golf, run, etc.) related. The content will also support the ask strategies of direct marketers and front line fundraisers (mid, major and planned giving).
  1. Digital fundraising will become the norm. In an article on trends, Ioan Marc Jones states that “2022 will be the year that charities come up with innovative and creative ideas, using hybrid events, Gaming for Good, artificial intelligence, and much more to prove their digital prowess.“But the fundraising aspect will depend on using the latest tech. To effectively fundraise, charities need to give potential donors the best chance to donate – and that means providing lots of options.

    “Here are some interesting facts about fundraising:

  • Non-profits in the U.S. reported a 20.7% increase in online revenue in 2020. The UK charities reported a 35% increase.
  • According to Blackbaud, the tech-savvy Gen X donate more frequently than other generations
  • According to Non-Profit Source, 25% of people donate using mobile devices, mobile devices account for 57% of all Internet traffic, and mobile donations continue to grow rapidly

    “The core message is clear: the brave new world is digital. Charities need to hedge bets and ensure they are embracing digital. Mobiles and emails, cashless and contactless, websites and social media – charities need to be online, using the best tech and looking at new payment solutions.“All charities should keep an eye out and use donate buttons, OR codes, text to donate, use of cashless and contactless alternatives, blockchain and cryptocurrencies.”

  1. Charities will finally embrace AI for fundraising. In that same article on trends, Ioan Marc Jones states that “automation is an essential element of digital transformation. It increases efficiency, provides opportunity for growth, streamlines processes and operations, allows staff and volunteers to prioritize more creative tasks, and minimizes expenditure.

    “For charities, automation provides plenty of opportunities, including easy routes to effective fundraising and innovative methods of service delivery.“AI works by analyzing data, denoting essential patterns, following trends, and using that information to make decisions that better cater to the needs of customers and service users. The tech basically streamlines tasks – particularly the time-consuming and tedious everyday tasks, such as data entry and invoicing – and takes the repetition of human action out of the equation.”

One last thought on the digital and AI points above – digital and AI strategies and tactics will create efficiencies that will give you more time to create, develop and nurture the relationships with your mid, major and planned giving donors. It will also create more communication options for you in each relationship, which will translate into you having more meaningful connections. These are the core reasons you should make sure you increase the amount of digital and AI use in your one-to-one relationships.

This is how Jeff and I see it this year. A lot of change. A lot of room for improvement and very real relationships.