What Will Fundraising Look Like in 2019? (Part I)
We asked AFP members from across North America for their advice and insights on fundraising in 2019 and what they think will be the chief trends and developments over the next 12 months. Here’s what they said.
Lynne Wester, Founder and Principal, Donor Relations Guru, Austin, Texas: I am hopeful that one trend that will continue is a focus on the donor experience and not just the fundraising transaction. Our goals should include retention and not just how much money an organization can raise. In addition, I think the best organizations will smartly hone in on donor behavior as a driver for their communications and experiences, not just the amount of the last gift.
Scott Decksheimer, CFRE, President and CEO, The Vitreo Group, Calgary, Alberta: I expect we will see an even bigger move to digital. The wave is here, and we need to not drown in it. In addition, I am expecting more mobile giving tools which will help the early adopters succeed. Facebook donations pages will continue to excel—assuming they can get a handle on their data-sharing issues. Unfortunately, one big development that I predict is a big, public donor data breach. It just feels like this one is coming, which is too bad.
Amy Eisenstein, ACFRE, Principal, Amy Eisenstein, LLC, Westfield, N.J.: There’s a major shift happening with capital campaigns and how nonprofit professionals can approach campaigns. For the first time, you no longer need to depend on a consultant, from start to finish, for your campaign. The trend is following a change taking place in all professions (think TurboTax for accountants, LegalZoom for lawyers, and WebMD for doctors). Nonprofit professionals can now take charge of their own campaigns and only use consultants where and when they will be most valuable.
Roger Ali, MBA, CFRE, President and CEO, Niagara Health Foundation, Welland, Ontario: Charities will need to continue to adapt and change to donors growing interest in topical issues and be part of the solution. Cultivating mega-givers will be important for bigger campaigns to meet the internal expectations of boards and stakeholders. With the recent postal strike in Canada close to the holidays, charities were impacted by lower response rates and not all meeting their holiday campaign targets. There will need to be a focus on donor reactivation campaigns and stronger donor renewal programs early in 2019.
Martha Schumacher, CFRE, ACFRE, MInstF (AdvDip), President and Founder, Hazen, Inc., and HILT, Washington, D.C.: Across the world, greater collaboration will occur among social impact organizations to combat climate change, fight poverty/hunger, and address water shortages. While baby boomers still control the largest percentage of wealth in the United States, giving by Gen Xers and Millennials will increase substantially in the near future due to the impending generational transfer of wealth. More mega-gifts will come from fewer donors, particularly those attached to significant naming opportunities. Major donors will continue to seek greater impact, accountability and transparency from the organizations they support and/or are considering supporting. Mid-level donors will decrease their giving due to tax changes.
Rachel Hutchisson, Vice President, Corporate Citizenship and Philanthropy, Blackbaud, Charleston, S.C.: 2019 trends I’d keep an eye out for include three main areas:
- One, the increased use of digital (products and techniques) to reach donors and potential supporters. This means an increase in online giving overall, an increase in the use of smart devices to make online gifts (Blackbaud has seen his go up each year), and—behind the scenes—nonprofits being more and more savvy about how to segment and target messages that are reaching people via digital means.
- Two, expect a continued focused on data and analytics to help nonprofits better understand and steward donors. Savvy nonprofits will continue to rely on data—and the insights derived from data—to connect with the people they care about.
- Three, it’s still all about the basics. Although it’s tempting to focus on speculating about the impact of tax law and other topics in the headline, sticking to the basics will matter more than ever. Who are you donors? What do they care about? How can you better steward them, putting a plug in that leaky bucket? How are you communicating your impact? Who are you asking – people to people – to support your mission? Yep, one trend is all about eliminating the distractions and sticking to the fundamentals.
Mazarine Trezy, CEO, Wild Woman Fundraising, Portland, Ore.: 2019 will see fundraising upheaval. There are massive changes going on at the macro and micro levels in our communities. At the micro level, in our communities, we face increased fundraising competition, now, more than ever before, people are asking for funding for their medical expenses, for accidents, for funeral expenses, even for their pets. We have 1,200+ crowdfunding sites and these are constantly expanding. Broadening our scope, we also have for-profit newspapers getting grants, and using our language, such as "Support independent journalism".
At the macro level, we have a senate that is twisting the flow of money to social services down to a trickle. Finally, we have the new tax codes which are making some major donors decide not to give. This year is going to be a year of battles on multiple fronts. But we have bright spots! 45% of nonprofit income is earned income, and we need to keep expanding those avenues if we are going to survive the coming skirmish.
Gail Perry, International Fundraising Consultant, Fired Up Fundraising, Chapel Hill, N.C.: We will see more and more mega-gifts from major donors. To capitalize on this opportunity, more organizations will be honing their major gift fundraising skills. The U.S. and Canadian economies are strong and many wealthy people are doing very, very well financially. Significant money is out there. Nonprofits of all sizes are perfectly poised to secure major gifts, if they take the time to understand the right approach, and if they are willing to make the proper investments in their team.
Andrea McManus, CFRE, Partner, The Vitreo Group, Calgary, Alberta: Fundraising will continue to broaden in scope and be strategic in execution. This is in response to a) the broadening of giving vehicles, such as the rise of donor-advised funds and for profit platforms like Go Fund Me, and b) the digital economy, which is going to force fundraisers to up their game on robust, consistent and tailored stewardship.