A Fundamental Change In The Way We Fundraise? Webinar Recap With MobileCause

March 18, 2019

Constant change has been a common theme in the nonprofit sector – from the surge of activation and activism in 2017 following the presidential election, to the unexpectedly swift decline of “rage philanthropy”, and later, a slew of new distractions, including the tax law changes and other global events that impacted causes and consumers.

Earlier in January, we recapped the tumultuous fourth quarter fundraising period, and raised some internal questions about the types of shift in strategy we would address with clients. Last week, we co-hosted a webinar with MobileCause’s Corey Blake, where we dug deeper into the larger question of: Have we entered a new era of fundraising, and if so, what do we need to do about it? Corey and ForwardPMX Vice President of Nonprofit Business Solutions & Strategy, Bethany Maki, provided their insight into what giving trends are driving changes in nonprofits’ fundraising and marketing strategies, as well as what areas are still causing uncertainty. Here’s an overview of what we discussed. For the full replay, follow this link.

A Preview Of The Top Giving Trends In 2018 That Will Continue To Have An Impact In 2019

Impact Giving – An Increasing Desire to Impact Real Change

What the industry once coined as “rage philanthropy” has since evolved into a new wave of “impact giving”, or an intense desire to see direct, quantifiable impact of giving, advocacy and ongoing engagement. With less reactive anger fueling donations today, nonprofits should work to align their storytelling with the impact that the donor expects their gift to make, whereas historically this was used to prove mission delivery. More than ever, particularly for younger Millennial and Generation Z donors, an open dialogue about the tangible impact a gift, or an act of advocacy is making, is crucial to maintain authentic engagement with them.

Video Consumption on the Rise

According to our friends at Google, 57% of people who watch a nonprofit’s video will go on to donate to that nonprofit. Despite the numbers, we’ve seen relatively low adoption of video in the nonprofit sector. This is often due to budget concerns, as there is widespread belief that for video content to be engaging, it needs to be a high production effort. But high-quality production isn’t generally the expectation from consumers today, particularly in an Instagram and Snapchat-centric world, where raw and real content resonates more strongly than content that’s overly produced. A great example of engaging video content is the approach of Best Friend’s Animal Society, who leverages low-cost video by filming within their adoption centers, and interviewing pet parents, to bring their story – in a very palpable way – to the end user. On social media, utilizing this type of raw content is a valuable way of giving your constituent a voice, and should be a critical part of your overall digital marketing strategy.

Third Party Fundraising

Facebook’s charitable giving tools have topped $1 billion from 20 million people since being introduced in 2015, so how do you incorporate this organic trend into your fundraising strategy? From a planning perspective, nonprofits need to decide whether they want to embrace and incentivize peer-to-peer fundraising, despite it not being a natural part of their lifetime acquisition file. It will also be important to migrate budget practices to account for dollars acquired vs. donors acquired in this instance. We do, however, believe third party fundraising cannot be ignored all together, and therefore organizations should be considering potential ways to engage donors that come through friends and families, so not to lose out on building those relationships and driving sustainable revenue.

Trends That Are Causing Uncertainty

Ongoing Tax Law Impact

Although there were other factors at play at the time, The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act that took effect earlier in 2018 did have a tangible impact on revenue, particularly in the second half of December. While less than 10% of Americans say a tax write-off is their primary reason for donating to charity, 42% said they would, “definitely or probably give less if they knew they’d receive a smaller tax break”. And that’s enough to cause a noticeable downturn in revenue for many nonprofits.

Will we see the donors majorly impacted by the tax law change return, just like any other year, or are these people gone for good?  If the answer is the latter, nonprofits will need to put some real time and effort to come up with strategies that keep these historically reliable donors engaged, despite the loss in tax benefits for them.

The Political Cycle

With 2020 presidential candidates already named and fundraising initiated, we will begin to see a dramatic ramp-up in political giving throughout 2019 that we expect will reach a fever pitch in 2020. The direct competition is not so much a concern, but the noise of the political cycle itself is very much so.  As we saw in 2016 and 2017, the noise does benefit the nonprofit sector overall, but the unknown lies with what verticals will see their fundraising positively or negatively impacted. Our advice? Stay aware of the news cycles and key political moments in time relevant to the upcoming 2020 election, and be ready to pivot or respond when necessary.

More than “Normal” News Distractions

In our previous research study with the National Research Group, nearly 1 in 3 donors surveyed said they are more likely to donate after seeing or reading an issue in the news. With increased focus on the government and current administration, we aren’t seeing as much “issue coverage” that can necessarily be used as a fundraising facilitator. This can be a positive thing for organizations that align their stories with a more politically-driven news cycle, but at the same time, poses challenges for nonprofits that are looking to create a larger dialogue around their cause, and how it’s being impacted by new policy changes and other political-driven actions.

 A Quick Recap Of Top Data Points From MobileCause:

After our trend analysis and recommendations for strategies, MobileCause’s Corey Blake covered some new methods for driving long-term, sustainable revenue. Check out some of the top statistics that Corey shared, in relation to those methods:

Recurring Giving Program: There is a 42% increase in donation amount when donors set up recurring payment vs. a one-time donation

Membership Models: Promoting a membership model can provide a significant boost in revenue, by bringing in an average of $52 per person ($624 per year), compared to the average one-time gift of $128.

Create Your Own Day of Giving: 75% of donors on a Giving Day are new to the organization, more engaged and more likely to give multiple times throughout the year. Aside from the global #GivingTuesday event, ramping up excitement and engagement around your own annual giving event can energize not only your donors, but your internal staff as well!

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising: The average peer-to-peer fundraiser brings $612 from 8 donors, 5 of which are new to the nonprofit.

A Multichannel Approach: Investing in a multichannel approach, such as adding social sharing buttons to collateral and peer-to-peer pages can increase CTR by +158%

View the entire webinar replay here!

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