The Future of Fundraising – what modern fundraisers need to know

By March 26, 2017Blog

The Future of Fundraising – what modern fundraisers need to know

As modern fundraisers, raising awareness, sparking a conversation, and getting people involved are three key objectives for your Not For Profit Organisation. Whilst distinct in nature, all three objectives are driven by a single end; namely, the procurement and distribution of vital resources for a worthy cause.

Join us as we take a look at the future of fundraising, and examine some of the modern strategies you can implement into your fundraising campaign(s).

A Bright Future for Modern Fundraisers

First of all, it is important to be optimistic. A negative attitude will get the modern fundraiser nowhere. Despite what you may have heard regarding a doomy, gloomy and generally morose economy, the reality is that people are giving more now than has been the case is recent years.

Figures released by Blackbaud.com.au show that donations to Not For Profits and charities began to grow again in 2014 and 2015, with a year on year increase of 2%. After several years of decline, projections show that this positive upturn is likely to continue.

This is undoubtedly positive news for the Not For Profit sector, and highlights the enormous potential for growth for players in the philanthropic markets.

The Omnichannel World

The fundraising landscape has changed dramatically since the old days of rattling a collection box outside your local community centre. The modern donator is busy. Their lives are fast-paced and packed with the sort of communicative channels our grandparents could only dream of. Having a strong presence on said channels is, therefore, essential to the success of your Not For Profit organisation.

Having a strong presence demands the use of powerful analytics to let you know who your primary donors are, and what drives their behaviour. Not only will this enable you to develop effective marketing strategies, but it will also answer a host of important questions e.g. how are your donators connecting with your online presence? Are they using their smartphone on coffee breaks or morning commutes, or are they using their office PC? And are they likely to use multiple channels – perhaps answering emails on mobile but filling in data capture forms via a PC device?

Extracting clear and accurate answers to these questions will ultimately hone and tailor the strategies you use across various channels to connect with people, which will subsequently optimise the revenue streams you operate in.

Greater Understanding Through Testing

‘Understanding’ has no end-game or final objective. Rather, it is a continuous journey of learning and development.

Success in this new fundraising landscape requires a more comprehensive and indefatigable approach. It requires constant re-appraisal and re-evaluation of what you know, and the methods you have used to obtain this knowledge.

A significant part of the new knowledge you will gain will come from A/B testing. Simply put, A/B testing involves comparing an ‘A’ variable against a ‘B’ variable to define which one provides the best results. This means re-thinking your approach to media marketing and leaving yourself open to different possibilities.

Let’s imagine that you have been using a similar email subject line for several years. This subject line provides you with a good level of click-throughs and donations, even resulting in some users becoming repeat contributors. Then you change it.

The new subject line is, it seems, an improvement. However, whether (or not) it produces a better outcome(s) for your organisation remains ambiguous. A/B testing enables you to clarify, empirically, which subject line is more effective, putting your campaign into a more scientific framework.

Intersection of Social Media & Technology

In today’s hyperconnected world, people are considerably more likely to donate to Not For Profits when they see their peers donate. Whether that be in-person or online. Therefore making your website optimised for mobile is crucial, where shareability can mean the difference between growth and failure.

Since people are much more likely to access a social channel (most likely in the form of an app) from their mobile device. It is that much more important that your organisation has a distinctly young (given the large millennial composition of today’s social media users) and active presence across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.  

With close to eighty percent of online users on at least one form of social media, the fundraising potential of these sites combined is phenomenal. Thus, it is a no-brainer that Not For Profits should invest heavily in making their site as user-friendly as possible, as well as in mastering their engagement and presence online.  

From Virality to Narrative

We are over a decade into the social media age, so reports of Not For Profits utilising Facebook and Twitter in an effort to spread the word are nothing new. Previously, the aim of the game on social media was ‘to go viral’.

Of course, this is still something a Not For Profit organisation hopes to achieve. But the techniques and objectives are becoming more sophisticated. Instead of launching a campaign in the hope that it becomes viral –  you need to be aiming for something different; you are aiming for a compelling narrative.

An example is the Make a Wish Foundation’s content marketing campaign. The producers drew upon the network of personal stories relating to the people who benefit from the Make a Wish Foundation’s work. Sharing personal wishes on YouTube and then publishing granted wishes on the foundation’s website. This enabled Make a Wish to construct powerfully resonant, personal narratives, showing potential donors precisely the outcomes their aid can achieve. This is a far more effective strategy, and has much greater longevity, than a one-off stab at virality.

This is what the future of fundraising looks like. It is more considered and more expansive than ever. It requires a more complex approach than previously expected. With increased complexity, however, comes even more opportunities- more chances to engage potential donors and to build stronger, long-term relationships.

As we’ve said before, the future is clearly bright for the Not For Profit sector.