What Nonprofits Learned in 2019 and What to Expect for 2020
We’ve watched another year go by. For nonprofits, that means a wealth of knowledge likely found itself left behind. Reflection is important when aiming to create new, effective strategies. This is why you must ask yourself, over the past year, what was trending? What worked with nonprofits in 2019 and what didn’t? What does it all mean in regard to your donor development strategy?
As stated in the third-quarter report by the Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP), there were a number of metrics that increased slightly, including revenue from gifts under $250, overall donor retention, and the total number of recaptured donors.
A new year is in full swing, which means new opportunities will likely arise. By better understanding the lessons learned in 2019, you can make more informed decisions that benefit both you and your donors. Here’s what we learned in 2019. More importantly, though, here’s what you can likely anticipate in 2020.
A Year in Review — What Did Nonprofits Learn in 2019?
As we kickstart a new decade, it is important that we reflect on the past. Not only are changes occurring in the charitable sector, but there are also major changes occurring across society. This in turn will impact who is giving and why.
Nonprofit Quarterly summed up some of the most noteworthy global issues and trends of 2019, many of which are highly insightful. The goal here is to take more generalized pieces of data and apply them to your specific charitable community and strategy, particularly those that relate specifically to donors.
For example, in 2019, the public became more increasingly aware of mega-donors, based on an ongoing “dollars up, donors down” research model. While this trend has been ongoing for approximately a decade, it is now becoming more apparent in regard to public consciousness.
Overall, it appears that small to mid-level donors are slowly disappearing, and the majority of donations are provided by the ultra-rich. While individual giving declined slightly, they still account for the majority (approximately 72%) within the charitable giving community.
Why Did This Happen?
Declines are believed to reflect the new federal tax laws approved in 2018. However, as stated by The NonProfit Times, despite these new tax laws and declines in 2018, many subsectors experienced their second-best year of giving ever. Religion accounted for 29% of all 2018 contributions.
Once again, this is a generalized trend, and in some industries and sectors, this trend does not necessarily apply — especially in terms of mid-level donors. Mid-level donors offer a potential pipeline to major giving and increased attention may be required in order to increase overall engagement.
Some of the other 2019 giving trends that were of value, included:
- The importance of recurring donors, as they donate approximately 440% more charity over their lifetime than one-time donors.
- Marketing should remain one of your top priorities. We discuss this below in terms of the top marketing channels and strategies for the year 2020.
Overall, 2019 was a big year for nonprofits and charitable organizations, particularly in regard to the level of innovation. There were also greater investments in technology in order to improve everyday operations.
Optimize Giving This Year — Here’s How to Maximize Charitable Donations in 2020
It’s been reported by Cygnus Applied Research that 56% plan to give around the same in 2020 as they did in 2018, 29% plan to give more, and 10% plan to give less. Based on the last year’s trends and lessons, here are some areas to focus on this upcoming year.
1. Make the donor experience more personal
As giving and communications continue to go digital, it’s important to be proactive in terms of personal connections. Digital channels are effective and implementing digital strategies is imperative to remain sustainable. Still, you do run the risk of coming across as slightly impersonal.
As stated in the Donor Loyalty Study, approximately 71 percent of donors feel more engaged when they receive content that’s personalized. This is particularly critical in terms of your email strategy, which is why it’s worth investing in fundraising software that stores all relevant information (i.e. donor names, donation history, events they attended, campaigns supported, etc.)
2. Implement mobile optimization
In 2020, continue to encourage your donors to give online. To do so, make it easy to donate and encourage monthly giving. In addition, focus your attention on your staff members in terms of mobility. For example, being able to access your customer relationship management (CRM) dashboard from your phone or tablet, means that you can better assess current campaigns and donor rates wherever you may be.
Mobile optimization will allow you to:
- Boost productivity — Organize all ongoing projects and data on your phone, so that you can stay on top of the highest priority tasks. You can also more easily share these tasks with your colleagues.
- Gain access to donor data when needed — Ideal if you’re meeting with a donor or need to refer back to their profile in order to communicate more efficiently (and in a more personal manner).
- Take in-person donations — Wherever you may be, with mobile payment apps, you can take donations either by typing in a donor’s card number or by swiping their card. Learn more about mobile giving here.
3. Consider generational giving
It is well understood that different generations are motivated by varying giving preferences and initiatives. Many organizations focus their attention on baby boomers (as they remain the most generous generation). Still, it’s imperative not to leave out any group of potential supporters.
In 2020, the oldest of the Gen Z group will be 24. This means that there are beginning to readily enter the workforce and in many ways, they are the future of giving. If you plan to include this age group in your latest strategy, be mindful of the following:
- The use of mobile devices is incredibly high across the Gen Z population. After all, this age group spends an average of five hours a day on their phone — which is also why social media messages are so effective (59% of Gen Zs were inspired to donate to charity based on a social media message). However, this is also an important channel for millennials and Gen-Xers.
- Focus on strengthening your monthly giving programs. Gen Z
4. Revisit your marketing strategy
An effective marketing strategy tells donors who you are, what you do, and more importantly, how they can involve themselves. Be mindful of the following marketing channels this upcoming year:
- Improve your website — Online giving is steadily growing, with 54% of global donors saying they prefer to give online. Here are 5 design tips to increase donor giving.
- Focus on social media — Social media outlets are one of the best ways to increase awareness online. On Giving Tuesday 2019, $120 was raised through Facebook.
- Use automation systems — If you have a small team, or would like to practice better time management, marketing automation systems can help streamline your online efforts.
A new year brings new opportunities. Throughout 2020, implement new strategies that will allow you to better understand your donors, increase engagement, and continue to grow. Ready to tweak your giving strategy?