What is coming? How will a fundraiser’s role change? Anthea Iva examines how donors might give differently in the future.

Karl Kinsella

Acting Head of Fundraising, Variety The Children’s Charity NSW

Branding, marketing and technology have seen fundraising become much more data driven, allowing us to test and refine our messaging and develop campaigns that resonate with donors. This has helped to shape donors’ awareness of the importance of regular funding that allows nonprofit organisations to plan for the future.

With this awareness has come more accountability, especially from younger people, as donors increasingly view their support as an investment of which they wish to measure the impact and outcomes beyond simple metrics.

Donors have always wanted their money to be used well, but now are more discerning and have expectations of greater accountability. Our sector certainly understands this, although we’re still in the early stages of measuring communicating impact and outcomes beyond simple metrics.

We’ll be very close to a cashless society in 2027 and will have shifted our relationship to money as a means of exchange towards a means of acquisition. It will be less tangible for day-to-day use and the seamless integration of technology into our digital personas will lead to a gamification of our lives – dollars will become abstract, points for rewards and gratification.

The relentless, highly detailed profiling and tailoring of content, advertising, products and experiences towards us and the narrowing of our social networks will see us become both more isolated from wider society and, yet, more connected with our tribes and communities. Meaning and control will become even more important to our self-identity.

Donors will exert this control by demanding similarly highly tailored content, products and experiences around their charitable support and philanthropy. Donors will be ruthlessly driven by gratification and outcomes – what has my support really meant, for whom, by how much, what’s next, is somebody doing it better? The dopamine drip feed of instant gratification will be the new thank you.

The drive towards data driven fundraising will have matured and increased donor fatigue and will see a shift back towards creating experiences and interactive opportunities for supporters, though these may well be digitally based.

Large block funding support will be a distant memory (it already is for many) as supporters seek to personalise and understand in granular detail their impact. Expect a huge growth in crowdfunding and new platforms as it becomes the Amazon of fundraising, allowing direct contact between the donor and recipient removing the middle man.

But if seems like a dystopian view, there is light. Well-managed organisations, delivering demonstrable outcomes for people and communities and able to cut through with their stories and build respectful relationships with their donor communities, will continue to be successful. People giving is an act of hope and those of who remember that each morning will thrive and prosper.

Bridget Sutherland

General Manager, Fundraising & Communications, SANDS

The future of fundraising is bright for those who have prepared and adapted for the growing digital age. In a decade, fundraising be digital, mobile ard responsive. The future is about creating opportunities for donors to get face-to-face with organisations that can solve the problem and provide these with the financial means to do so.

Digital change Outdated and expensive processes will be driven out of fundraising strategy as charities strive to become nimble in the digital marketing responsive world. Social media will drive open consultation and conversation with donors. From here, relationships and communities will be built to enable donors to become a part of the cause they are seeking to support. Those who embrace day-to-day conversation with their donors will benefit from the strong relationships this drives and the commitment to their cause. Fundraisers will operate to link like-minded groups and communities of donors to create a sense of belonging.

Listening to donors Fundraisers will be adept at taking donors on a journey as they identify with the need of their chosen cause. We have learned how to talk with our donors about things they are interested in rather than what we want to tell them. Donors want to see and feel the impact. Donor journeys will encompass individualised video and virtual reality, where they will be able to visualise the impact and what can be achieved if they donate more. They will be able to enter the world where the need exists and they can help to provide the solution.

Engaged donors Fundraisers will continue to understand that donors will no longer give to the big charities in the same way based on historical relationships. Donors will want to be engaged at a level whereby they feel they are achieving something with their giving. Some organisations have begun to do this now, however one case study delivered to 10.000 donors as a representation of impact will no longer be enough as donors seek a personalised donor journey. Donors will want engagement with the impact of their gift in a meaningful way. Many more will seek to give living wills and become a part of the journey to success with their giving.

Solution-focused brands Strong brands will become paramount in building credibility. Mission wall fall second to strong vision that donors can see, hear and feel – and see themselves as a crucial part of the solution. This will lead to smaller charitable groups emerging that seek to provide clearly identified solutions. Unlike current community fundraising practices, these donors individually identify a problem,engage their networks and supporter bases, and provide the solution both ideologically and financially.

As a fundraiser in 2027, you will possess the skills of a seasoned communicator who seeks to make the pathway to a better world within the reach of your supporters. You will not only take your supporters on a journey, you will collaborate with them on ‘their’ journey and together achieve great things.

In 2027, successful fundraising will be nimble and a result of listening to your supporters and providing them with what they need to feel empowered by their giving.

Melinda Seal

Head of Fundraising, Totara Hospice South Auckland

What kind of presence Will fundraising have in the next 10 years? Most folks will invariably answer ‘a digital presence’! In recent years most medium- to large-size charities have demonstrated they can do this well they have a strong online presence that enables the ‘ask’ and an easy pay/donate functionality.

However there are still challenges for many organisations with the Increasing expectation of real time accountability. The donors want to see and, even more, feel the valued difference their donations have created, and they want that experience faster than at any other time in our industry’s history.

Gone are the days when donors sponsor children in developing countries to go to school and are happy with a photo three months later! Contemporary donors want to see the school and hear from the community they have impacted. This is possible now for most and should be for all by 2027.

Fundraising delivering digitally enabled donor experiences, whether through social media or a linked Google Earth FaceTime conversation, will be an expectation of donors. Value and impact provided in real time with tangible experience is an expectation that is shaping and driving out industry. ICT competency is a fundraising basic task. Charities that cannot deliver this type of experience will lose their competitive edge. Real time results matter, call it instant gratification for the philanthropist. If, as fundraisers, we are going to remain the connector who with integrity, links donors and causes, we need to ensure we can meet donor expectations about the difference they helped make.

If we do this well as a profession and we can customise this to the different types and generations of donors, then we can mitigate temptations to give directly. We know this often does not impact that we can have if we do our job well.

The use of digital technology in our industry, in my view, will also enable and enhance the other change I foresee — an integration of charitable purposes.

Linked to impact and value, it won’t be long before donors, funders and others demand that charities with like causes work together to maximise value. The balance between charitable competition, community needs and funding will have to be struck, and activity and impact data that is shared easily, reported easily and analysed easily will facilitate this.

All said, however, due to the fact that we are charities, uptake may be slower than with the corporate world — hey, 29.8% of donations at my hospice are still made by cheque! However, don’t think change isn’t here.


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