Fundraising Published Date, 2022

Three Fundraising Trends To Watch—And How To Respond

Created By: Becca Bennett, Lauren Hancock, and Piper Hardin, CFRE
September 7, 2022

All three of us became fundraisers because we believe that mission-driven organizations can change the world. That fact remains true as we advance in our careers. The more we learn about how fundraising works and what donors want, the more we realize another fact: nonprofits that comprehend and respond strategically to trends are the ones best positioned to advance their missions. Here are three trends in the field and our recommendations for responding.

1. Change is accelerating. Nonprofits that don’t change with the times are doomed to obsolescence. Virtually every organization we partner with has undergone major shifts in the past three years. The pandemic accelerated many long-simmering developments. As economic and social changes continue to sweep across the globe, flexibility in planning for the next quarter and for the long term is key.

💡 Our recommendation: These days, the 5-year structured strategic plan may not serve your organization. Consider instead a more flexible and nimble strategic plan with a bold vision and guide rails. The process of exploring the twists and turns around the bend has the benefit of fostering collaboration as well as achieving greater clarity. Read more.

2. Power is shifting. In politics and economics as in philanthropy, the world is changing. Power is being shared in new ways, and if it isn’t, then those with the power find themselves increasingly isolated. The clearest example is in the workplace; companies that refuse to listen to their employees about things like remote work are becoming less competitive in the race for talent. Traditionally powerful people and institutions are revisiting long-held practices in the name of equity. We anticipate that power shifts in the wake of Covid and George Floyd’s murder will continue to disrupt the nonprofit world.

💡 Our recommendations: Explore trust-based philanthropy, an important trend in foundation giving. Grantmakers are listening more to grantees and affected communities and making more of an effort to include them in decision-making. As a result, they’re giving unrestricted funds more readily, being less strict about reports, and investing in capacity building. (Read more.) Regarding recruitment and retention, our colleague Shaby Rosales recommends experimenting with time off dedicated to mental health, civic engagement, and other pursuits, among other benefits tailored to staff.

3. Wealth is becoming more concentrated. At first blush, this trend may seem at odds with the one above. Yet both are valid and vital to staying current. While the centers of power are shifting and will continue to do so, the wealthy have continued to get wealthier—whether it’s in the form of income, real estate, or investments. Fundraisers ignore this state of affairs at their peril. It explains why the field has added “megadonors” to our vocabulary, where previously “major donors” was sufficient. Mega-gifts (usually defined as $10 million and up) can change the course of an organization. Over 200 households have signed The Giving Pledge, and 70% live in the U.S. MacKenzie Scott, Jack Dorsey, and the Gates Foundation are leading the way in making transformational gifts to nontraditional recipients.

💡 Our recommendation: Development professionals shouldn’t expect a mega-donation to fall into their laps, especially when so many other organizations are also in hot pursuit of these transformative investments. Consider what size of gift would transform your organization, and how the organization could scale if such a donor came along. In the meantime, test your fundraising practices and develop (or refine) your strategic plan and case for support. Orr Group stands ready to partner with nonprofits on these proven strategies for success. Read more.

What nonprofit trends are you seeing at your organization? We’d love to hear from you. Tag us on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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