Fundraising trends for 2020


Viewing supporters holistically and overcoming silos

Viewing supporters holistically will continue to be a key area of focus as charities seek to maximize relationships with supporters. This means that the first engagement may not be a financial ask and teams will need to work in an integrated way, in order to deepen engagement and drive up loyalty and value. To do this well requires:

  • joined up planning across teams (both within fundraising and involving other key colleagues such as marketing and communications)
  • creation of cross-cutting KPIs that are supporter focussed
  • clear management of data, often across multiple systems and teams
  • a greater understanding of supporter interest driven by reliable data and insight

Working on integrated supporter communications, and a focus on building robust insight and improving supporter journeys, should all be high on the agenda to ensure success.

Creative engagement techniques dominate

Generational differences in how supporters engage with charities are becoming more and more evident. This shouldn’t be surprising given the pace of technological and societal change from Baby Boomers to Gen Z, but we risk serving up the same options to all, with likely diminishing returns.

With the younger generation tending to favour experiences over actual purchases, the time is now for charities to start engaging in much more creative and interactive ways with their supporter base. Although it might put pressure on organizations to become more creative, challenging the way things have been done to date, it will help to attract and retain a younger audience.  With ever increasing pressure on income we see more charities experimenting in this space exploring video, AR and VR to test what works for them.  We recommend making testing a key part of your approach to 2020.

Focus on flexibility, diversity and inclusion in the workforce to maximize results

Besides generational change, demographic, economic and societal change continue to shape the fundraising environment. Your supporter base is changing, your neighbours may be changing (although the pace of change will of course be dependent on where you live in the country), and the issues in the news are changing. Your organization, and in particular your team, should be changing to reflect that.

The diversity, inclusivity and flexibility of your team will all be key to how well placed you are to recognise, meet and indeed exceed the demands of the emerging environment. It’s said that a fundraiser stays in a role for less than 24 months – that’s painful for your organization, and can impact your progress. What can you do to change that? Look at how you meet the needs of both your team, your organization, and your supporters – and see if you can maximize those relationships, both internal and external.

Purpose-led marketing becomes mainstream

Much conventional brand building and advertising work is purpose-led. It has become a big part of contemporary brand strategy over the last couple of years, and it’s set to be much more mainstream in 2020. This is both a challenge and an opportunity for charities. The challenge is that purpose-led marketing is driven by businesses and their agencies, and some initiatives don’t involve a charity, with the corporate choosing to tackle an issue head on.

The opportunity is for non-profits to showcase their expertise, position themselves as the natural partner for the sought-after brand purpose, evidencing impact and insight that is almost priceless. There is huge potential for charities is to engage with brands and help ensure that purpose-led marketing is both authentic and impactful. We expect to see more of this in 2020.

What do you think? Let us know, we’d love to hear your thoughts. And if you need help with the challenges (and opportunities) that 2020 will bring, predicted or not, we’re there to help. Please get in touch!


Michelle Chambers is THINK Canada's Director, and Managing Director of THINK Consulting Solutions. You can meet her here.