As we celebrate The Curtis Group’s 30th anniversary, I could reflect and reminisce on the past, and maybe I will at a later date. But today, I would rather look to the future of fundraising and philanthropy. Below are six philanthropic trends that I think will impact fundraising in 2019.
- High-net-worth donors continue to give largest percentage of dollars in U.S. – I recently presented with philanthropic market executive for U.S. Trust, Erin Hogan, on the findings from the 2018 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy, which assesses giving trends of households with an annual income greater than $200,000 and/or net worth greater than $1,000,000. This key demographic continues to give (90%) and volunteer (48%) at rates significantly higher than the general public (56% and 25%, respectively).
- The results reaffirm that high-net-worth individuals should be a top priority in your fundraising strategy.
- Impact-driven giving gaining momentum – While other factors, such as uncertainty around tax reform, the stock market and the economy, drive giving, I anticipate that donors will primarily make giving decisions based on the impact of their investment. Donors are increasingly strategic and diligent, conducting research prior to giving and seeking impact reports after the fact.
- Inspire donor confidence, maintain open lines of communication and tailor your stewardship activities to demonstrate specific impact. Over half (54%) of high-net-worth households indicated that they don’t know whether their charitable giving is having the intended impact and the majority (71%) rely on the recipient organization to make that determination.
- Diversity in philanthropy growing – We have and will continue to see the prominence of women in philanthropy. For example, high-net-worth women give at a rate of 93% compared to 87% of men (2018 U.S. Trust Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy). As our country continues to become more diverse, we will also continue to see a more diverse segment of the population contributing.
- Be sure your database and staff are equipped to properly acknowledge and recognize a more diverse group of supporters.
- Build relationships and tailor your approach to the needs and interests of donors from diverse backgrounds.
- Giving vehicles continue to grow– As we have written about previously, I anticipate that the creation of donor-advised funds will continue to rise. I also predict an increase in monthly and online giving. Crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising will continue to play a prominent role in our newsfeed and views around charitable giving. While not within current definitions of philanthropic giving (giving through crowdfunding is neither tax-deductible nor given to a nonprofit), crowdfunding teaches us that donors are interested in personalizing their giving.
- Do you have the technology and policies to accept diverse giving vehicles?
- Can you make giving more personal at your organization, incorporating testimonials and personal messages into giving options?
- Capital campaigns on the rise – Entering the 10th year since the Great Recession, there has been a steady increase in the number of capital campaigns. While some might predict donor fatigue or market saturation, I actually think we will see continued growth in the number of campaigns in 2019, as well as continued support of these campaigns.
- Are you considering a campaign? Plan now: assess your leadership, conduct a campaign planning and feasibility study, and talk to your staff and leadership.
- Fundamental principles of fundraising are more critical than ever – Not every nonprofit will be affected in the same way by changes to the economy. Considering this, an investment in best practices, relationship-based fundraising and knowledge of your donors are especially critical.
- Consider conducting an annual fund audit and collecting meaningful qualitative and quantitative data on your donors.
Most importantly, we all need to remember that philanthropy isn’t going anywhere. It might be affected by the economy and other factors, but the last 63 years of the Giving USA Foundation’s report on philanthropy should affirm that Americans will continue to be incredibly generous.