Amidst message saturation, digital disruption, generational change and increasingly complex lives, Eliane Miles says communicating and connecting with donors requires more sophisticated strategies.


McCrindle on fundraisingThe industry that does the most to support and develop our communities is the not-for-profit sector. Australians have a high regard for the sector, and reach deep into their pockets to show their support. Four in five adults give financially and one in four do at least once per month.

However, McCrindle’s data on the sector shows that there is a long-term engagement challenge, with Australians twice as likely to make a one-off donation than a regular one, and volunteers most likely to participate in a stand-alone event rather than make an ongoing contribution.

In order to respond to the shifts taking place, not-for-profits need to understand the changes occurring in their external environment and how these impact every-day Australians.

External factors impacting a changing Australia

The latest Census results, released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics earlier this year, reveal a picture of a changing Australia. Our nation is larger, older, more culturally diverse and facing increasing costs of living pressures – more so than at any other time in history.

Today, Australia’s population is 24.6 million. Two thirds (67%) of our nation lives in Australia’s capital cities, which have grown twice as fast as the rest of Australia over the past five years (10.5% compared to 5.7% for the remainder of Australia). Migration has also changed Australia’s cultural landscape, with more than one in four (26%) Australians now born overseas.

The median age of an Australian is now 38 years of age, an increase from the median age of 37 recorded in the 2011 Census. Across the six generations represented in Australia, Generation Y (aged 23-37) and Generation Z (8-22) are a key focus for not-for-profit organisations as these young people continue to make an emergence into the workforce and enter their key earning years.

The Census also revealed the growing cost of living pressures in capital cities, with the average household weekly income having increased by 16.5%, from $1,234 in 2011 to $1,438. However, over the same period, median weekly rents increased by 17.5% (from $285 to $335 today).

The proportion of Australians renting has increased to 30.9%, while 34.5% own their home with a mortgage and 31% own outright. Median mortgage repayments are highest in Sydney, Darwin and Canberra, where mortgage repayments are well over $2,000 per month. Perth, Sydney and Melbourne have the highest proportion of mortgage holders who spend more than 30% of their income on their mortgage.

How charities can respond

Amidst message saturation, digital disruption, generational change and increasingly complex lives, communicating and connecting with donors requires more sophisticated strategies. Our research shows four ways charitable organisations can respond to the changes taking place that are having an impact on the sector and their existing and potential donors.

1 Multi-tiered levels of management

Australians desire to be involved in charities on their own terms. Charitable givers do not want to be locked into long-term contracts, but desire flexibility in donation amounts and variability in their involvement. Older generations suggest they are time- poor and younger generations don’t have as much money to give, yet still want to be involved.

2 Community building

Among the younger generations there is a desire to be part of a community that brings about social change. They want to be involved in something bigger than themselves with the knowledge that together they can make a difference. This gathering of community is not just in the online space but in the physical space as well and often achieved through events that bring people together.

3 Effective communication of results

Donors state that they want to see the results of where their investment is going. They want to know how has it practically helped people in need. When participants they know their donation is being effective and making a material difference, there is a desire to continue engaging with the charity.

4 Create engaging and fun experiences

Supporters, particularly in the younger generation, desire to be involved in experiences with charitable organisations. Rather than simply giving their money and moving on they want to feel some level of partnership with the cause. Their desire is for the donation experience to be convenient, meaningful and fun.

Find out more

The full Australian Communities Trends Report is available for download here. Eliane Miles, Research Director at McCrindle will be presenting these results amidst new findings and research at The Australian Communities Forum on 15 September in Sydney. Find out more here.

Eliane Miles

Eliane is a social researcher, trends analyst and Director of Research at the internationally recognised McCrindle. As a data analyst she understands the power of big data to inform strategic direction. Managing research across multiple sectors and locations, she is well positioned to understand the mega trends transforming the workplace, household and consumer landscapes. Her expertise is in telling the story embedded in the data and communicating the insights in visual and practical ways.

From the key demographic transformations such as population growth to social trends such as changing household structures, to generational change and the impact of technology, Eliane delivers research based presentations dealing with the big global and national trends.


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