Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Future of Fundraising

Here is my new column in Fundraising Success. 

It's a bold move to try to predict the future. Five years ago, who would have guessed that Facebook would have more than 600 million members or that we'd be talking to each other in 140-character tweets — LOL, BTW, TTYL? 

That said, I'm going out on a limb to predict the future of fundraising. Here's my take on four key trends that will dramatically change our field in 31 years. 

In 2042, fundraising will be profoundly multichannel 
Giving through one channel will become the anomaly vs. the norm as media continue to proliferate and millennials mature. Whether it's texting a donation, giving through a mobile website, responding to an e-mail, writing a check, organizing and giving via an event on Facebook, tweeting to donate, rallying gifts from your tribe on social fundraising sites, giving through the phone or because of a DRTV appeal, the idea of the single-channel donor will be dead. Smart nonprofits will learn the fine art of communicating via multiple channels and meet donors where they live. This will require a focus on analytics to track donor engagement. It also will require nonprofits to reorganize their fundraising departments. 

In 2042, fundraising will be profoundly multi-ethnic
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 2042 may be the year that the U.S. becomes a "majority-minority" country, i.e., people of color will outnumber non-Hispanic whites. I predict that this demographic reality will set the stage for a renaissance in fundraising.

Signs already point to the increasing wealth of minorities. For example, according to the Commerce Department's Minority Business Development Agency and the Census Bureau, "the number of African-American-owned firms in the United States increased by 60.5 percent between 2002 and 2007 to 1.9 million firms. African-American-owned businesses also drove job creation over the five-year period, with employment growing 22 percent, exceeding that of non-minority-owned businesses." 

There's also the issue of remittances, or the flow of money from people of color in the U.S. to people in their home countries. According to the World Bank, remittances to developing countries were $250 billion in 2006! This compares to just more than $300 billion in giving to all charities in 2010. Imagine how remittances will grow and how nonprofits and causes will be affected if they can tap into these dollars. Smart nonprofits will get to know these new audiences and become more culturally competent. They will also hire diverse leadership and welcome diverse board members.

In 2042, fundraising will be decentralized
In 31 years, I predict, the traditional fundraising department will be less a driver of donations and more a facilitator of philanthropic impulses. The growth of social fundraising sites like Crowdrise, Jumo and Razoo and the massive sums of money raised from peer-to-peer fundraising events like the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure are indicators that people don't need organizations to raise money. In the future, we will see more friends, families and colleagues coming together at will to pool resources and raise funds on their own.

Of course, this behavior is not new. Peer-to-peer fundraising has been practiced forever. However, its growth will be encouraged by new technologies. Smart nonprofits will leverage the charitable impulses of these donor-fundraisers by getting out of their way instead of trying to control the passions of these networked individuals. They will also develop killer strategies for cultivating donors who are not formally affiliated with their organizations. 

In 2042, fundraising will be even more hampered by restricted giving 
This is not a welcome trend, but I'm afraid that restricted giving will become even more prevalent in years to come as our hyper-local, hyper-individualized consumer culture bleeds into our philanthropy. If I can customize the color and style of my new Nikes, why can't I customize my philanthropy — i.e., only give to specific individuals, locations and projects that I like? Rather than lament this reality, smart nonprofits will communicate within the worldview that says, "I am unique." They will find creative ways to make fundraising feel special, fulfilling and deeply personal. Good luck!


FundraiserBeth said...

Very brave - and fun - to be predicting the future, but you have so much great research behind you. Thanks for sharing!

I do disagree w/your comment that the Susan G. Komen Race For the Cure (and the like) peer-to-peer fundraising indicates that "people don't need organizations to raise money." Komen is actually a pretty big org, and large peer-to-peer events need technology infrastructure to support the connectivity and fundraising. And they have many, many "ambassadors" who do the asks.

I agree generally, what we consider now the "norm" or "necessary" will be completely changed, particulary 31 years from now.

~ FundraiserBeth

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