Shifting Your Fundraising Thinking

I just finished the first day of the Association of Fundraising Professional’s International Conference. Their theme this year – Shift – talks about how changing social trends require a shift in thinking among fundraisers. They emphasized in the opening session that we do not need a fundamental overhaul, just some changed perspectives.

That got me thinking about how social trends have shifted – and continue to shift – and what that might mean for the fundraising profession. From today’s sessions – and my own reading – I came up with a list of the five trends that I believe have – and will continue to have – a significant impact on fundraising today and in the near future.


Women have assumed a more prominent economic role in society

Women now receive the majority of college degrees at the undergraduate and graduate levels and have surpassed men in the workforce. Women have made strides in the board room and executive suites with more progress needed to achieve parity. As economic power shifts, so will domestic decision making. Do you still focus your asks on the husbands or steward the couple? Do you consider single women as major donor prospects?


Diversity has become the norm in American society

The birth rate of non-white children outpaced white children in 2013 so that by 2018 or 2019, white children will constitute a minority. Between 2040 and 2050, demographers predict that white Americans of every age will become the minority. Do you address diversity in your development program? Do you actively reach out to non-white populations?


As more Baby Boomers retire, Millennials continue to make up a larger percentage of the workforce, volunteers, and donors

Articles abound about the significant differences in attitudes and beliefs between Baby Boomers and Millennials including less loyalty, more job changes, greater focus on work/life balance, and a greater desire to see direct results of their giving among the latter compared to the former. If your messages still assume a Baby Boomer population, they miss the mark.


Explosion of social media

Americans spend an average of 37 minutes per day on social mediawith 55 to 65 year olds as the fastest growing age group for Twitter and 45 to 55 for Facebook. While sociologists continue to debate whether social media improves or degrades personal relationships, it clearly allows people to spread their passions around the world in an instant. How fast does the latest cat video get more than a million hits? How your organization manages its social media profile can mean the difference between success and failure.


Increase of online giving

According to Network for Good, online giving has increased by 14% since 2010. Although it still comprises only 14% of all dollars given, ignoring online giving could prove perilous to a nonprofit organization’s bottom line. Does your website make it easy for your constituents to make a gift?

While these five trends – and likely many others – cause a shift in fundraising, they do not change its foundation. Donors still want their contributions to make a meaningful difference in the lives of the people (or animals) they care about, and they want meaningful recognition for their gift. How you communicate your organization’s impact to your donors may shift, but the need to show them they make a difference will not change.


How will you shift your fundraising tactics to account for these and other social changes?