6 Fundraising Trends to Watch in 2018

It’s never too early to think about your New Year’s resolutions – right? How can you improve? What can you do differently? What are you already doing that’s helping you reach your goals? 2018 is just around the corner, so you’re probably wondering about the outlook on fundraising for the coming year.

We’ve seen several wonderful changes in charitable giving  take place since the days of direct mailouts asking for a cheque in return. Today the outlook of success in fundraising points towards smaller, more targeted campaigns. Taking a look through recent trends can help your nonprofit prepare for the upcoming year.

In a nutshell, staying on top of the ever-changing world of fundraising means engaging and inspiring your stakeholders with targeted, data-driven outreach. Use storytelling as a platform to humanize your campaign across social media, and make the best use of social tools through mobile optimization.


Let us break it down for you. Here are the 6 fundraising trends to watch in 2018:


1. Everything and everyone is social

Major social networking platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, continue to grow and evolve. With these technological innovations the interactions your donors have with your campaign online is growing and evolving as well. This brings about an added necessity for you to stay current, but embracing these changes is one of the best things you can do for your campaign. Why? Because social platforms empower your donors to become activists. For example, crowdfunding is becoming more and more powerful through these tools. 9 in 10 crowdfunding contributors reported that crowdfunds help people to feel more connected to the causes they support. Pause here and think – are you effectively embracing all that social platforms have to offer? Donors are using these platforms to create their very own independent fundraising campaigns to support YOUR cause. If you can give your donors a voice, you’re reaching both current and future donors on a personal level. So invest in your social media presence, engage with your donors rather than just communicating with them, and give your followers the tools they need to be activists in support of your mission.

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2. Going Mobile is a must

Yes, everyone is everyone social, and everyone is always on the go. Studies show that up to 50% of emails are now opened on mobile devices. That means donors are opening your newsletter on their smartphones and tablets, watching your videos, and following links to donate, all on mobile screens while on public transit or out to eat with friends. Now revisit your online giving environment – how is your website, donation page and email newsletter designed? Ensure they are optimized for the mobile user – easy to read, easy to access, and easy to engage with. Make mobile giving a comfortable experience, because your donors are ready to give via their smartphones.


3. Storytelling is high-priority

Harness the power of social platforms to ramp up your storytelling and share your why. Why do you do the work that you do? Your campaign has a compelling and purposeful story that can tap into reader’s emotions and entice them into action. Share stories from donors on why they give. Board members stories on why they care. Call out for your social followers to tell their own support stories, and inspire donors who relate to your cause.  Humanize the approach of your campaign by sharing it in a creative and approachable way – make the human connection stronger and more authentic. Videos are a fantastic way to do storytelling. They bring your campaign to life in a way that words and pictures just can’t, but you don’t have to invest millions in video production to get a clip that will engage your stakeholders. Phil’s creative team has the talent, time and resources to help you craft your stories in a compelling way.

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4. “The public” no longer exists

Operating today’s fundraising campaigns with the notion of reaching out to the public is far too simple for you to really reach your goals. One new trend in fundraising that can significantly alter your nonprofit is recognizing that your campaign is followed by many publics, and recognizing that this fragmentation means donors are being more selective with their financial giving.

There is a huge pool of donors who have much to give, but if they don’t feel reflected well or understood by your organization, they will make their contribution elsewhere. So provide a reason for them make their contribution to your cause – offer your unique donors a specific and meaningful sense of purpose, rather than casting all of your audiences together.

This can bring us back to the power of social media – if you give your current and potential donors the resources they need to build their own, individualized campaign that reflects their personal support story for your organization, than you’re not only strengthening their support for your campaign, but actively engaging and inspiring them, too. So make giving personal.

Understanding what drives your donor can help you to build strong relationships with them, and help you to plan for the years ahead. Giving by the individual/ household donor type is expected to increase 3% in 2018 and continues to hold real power in the donor-nonprofit relationship. Giving by individuals accounts for more than 7 in every 10 philanthropic dollars that the sector receives, so attending to the relationship your organization holds with each of your publics will prove to be highly effective in securing financial contributions.


5. Get to know your donors through big data

Today’s philanthropy involves fewer and fewer numbers of people who have a greater concentration of wealth and giving potential. Nonprofits can improve their fundraising programs significantly with targeted, segmented campaigns and personalized content that triggers response based on likes, interests, past behaviours, and giving motivation. The more you know about your next potential major donor, the better you can tailor a personalized approach them. Prospect research will help your organization focus in on those who have the financial resources and motivation to give. How have you been learning about your current and potential donors? It could be time to reassess your data practices and determine where you can improve this process.


6. A new generation of donors: the engaged philanthropist

Donors are seeking more control and engagement in their philanthropy, a trend that demands a donor-centered fundraising approach. The shift towards social fundraising provides a certain means through which to expand the donor-nonprofit relationship, through real-time engagement with stakeholders. But once you’ve done your research, built a targeted campaign, and cultivated a new donor base, you can use more than social networking platforms to engage your supporters. Asking donors to volunteer or to join the nonprofit board are engagement opportunities that can retain current supporters and capture new donors.

With this final trend there is a shift from fundraising to philanthropy. This word, at the basis of all giving, focuses more on the donor than on the ask. If you take a look again through the trends above, you can pick out this theme in every single one.


But what about the annual fund?

It’s not a new trend in fundraising, but that’s not to say it’s obsolete. In focusing on the annual gift, we and our constituents can lose sight of why the giving is important — what and who it supports. We become focused on the process, not on the reason for the process, and the recent trends in fundraising lend to a greater shift away from fundraising as a process, and more towards the person behind the contribution. Ultimately, donors still want what they’ve always wanted: to give and to know they’ve made a difference.

We hope you’ve found this article interesting. If we can help you plan for a successful 2018, don’t be shy to reach out to us. If you’d like to share your comments or ideas, send us a note or give us a call!