Fundraising Trends To Watch Right Now Shared Experiences From Nonprofit Leaders
Fundraising Published Date, 2023

Fundraising Trends To Watch Right Now: Shared Experiences From Nonprofit Leaders

Created By: Steve Orr and Amanda Nelson
October 19, 2023

Earlier this week, we convened with a group of nonprofit leaders from across the Chicago area to share insights and strategies around organizational leadership and current fundraising trends. Ernie Iseminger, former Vice President of Advancement at Illinois Tech, and Caite Gilmore, Vice President of Development at Obama Foundation, co-hosted the dinner and discussion and kicked off the conversation by sharing their experiences with $1 billion-plus campaigns. It was an evening of relationship building, peer learning, and “a-ha moments.”

Nonprofit executives across the Chicago area attended Orr Group’s “Planned Giving: Fueling Your Campaign for Success” dinner on October 17th, 2023. Attending organizations included: Chicago Botanic Garden, Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center, Hope Chicago, Human Rights Watch, Nourishing Hope, Rosalind Franklin University, United Way Metro Chicago, and University of Illinois Chicago.

Across nonprofit missions which ranged from education and advocacy to cultural institutions, we identified and explored common themes and trends from across the nonprofit sector. Here’s what we’re all seeing:

1. Campaigns, Campaigns, Campaigns

Nearly every attendee was in some stage of a campaign. We discussed the need for and importance of campaign planning, especially in understanding and utilizing donor data to inform capacity and develop realistic campaign goals. In relation, we explored the critical role board and campaign leaders play in campaign fundraising as well as strategies for utilizing their time effectively, such as creating transparency for their involvement and supplying the resources needed to support these efforts.

2. The Great Wealth Transfer

There was a lot of discussion about planned giving and a consensus that nonprofits are not prepared to maximize the upcoming $86 trillion transfer in generational wealth over the next 20 years. We discussed making the case for investing in proactive planned giving programs (especially as part of campaign readiness), and ways to structure blended gifts at every level. We also examined the importance of demonstrating planned giving ROI for both the donor and the organization and underscoring the long-term benefits of building a “culture of planned giving” with board members, organizational leaders, and fundraisers.

3. Talent

“Where are all the good fundraisers?” is a challenge nearly every organization is facing right now. The group discussed tactics for building and retaining talent, including using meaningful KPIs to create clear goals, structuring more levels for increased pathways to promotion, and taking the time to acknowledge individual and team wins.

After sharing all of these challenges, exchanging insights, and identifying paths forward, we closed the evening with a collective moment of celebration and gratitude, acknowledging our critical work as nonprofit leaders and the impact we all help drive through our organizational missions.

Interested in learning more about Orr Group’s work in campaigns, planned giving, or talent? Get in touch today.

Stephen K. Orr

Steve Orr is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Orr Group. Steve draws from his investment banking and finance background to bring a problem-solving approach, a focus on metrics, and an outcomes-driven perspective to the nonprofit sector.

Amanda Nelson

Amanda Nelson is a Vice President at Orr Group. Amanda has 15 years of professional fundraising experience with a background in higher education and provides nonprofits with expertise in development and strategy implementation to drive growth.

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