Last year, we brought you 7 trends in 7 minutes. This year, we've got a dilemma: there are tons of trends to share, but time somehow hasn't expanded to accommodate us. What's a tired trendsetter to do?
Well, in the nonprofit world, when we've got more to do than resources to do it with, we ask for help.
So without further ado, we bring you trends from our friends.
Top Nonprofit Fundraising Trends
Some trends just stand out. These are our picks for the top nonprofit fundraising trends for 2024.
- Artificial Intelligence
- Donors find a way
- Year-round peer-to-peer fundraising
- Strategic partnerships
1. Artificial Intelligence
As we asked around for the trends our friends were seeing, AI was the top response—by far. And there are so many reasons why! Here are just a few of the reasons that the nonprofit world is tapping into artificial intelligence:
AI as a team efficiency tool
Funraise's Chief Product Officer and Co-founder, Tony Sasso, says, "There’s a lot that AI can do in the donation experience, like what we’re doing with AppealAI, but some of the biggest benefits that orgs can lean into are incorporating AI into your team’s daily work habits. My favorite, easy to use, example of adopting AI into your team’s workflows: Before you write a fundraising email, donor update, or new website copy, use your preferred AI tool to provide a quick draft—you may be surprised at the speed at which you can gain new clarity or spark a new direction."
As a timesaving trial-and-error tool
Katelyn Baughan, nonprofit email marketing expert explains, "It's no secret that AI is one of the main trends in 2024. By utilizing AI, the copywriting process is more efficient, allowing marketers to focus more energy on strategy and testing within their digital campaigns."
There's a lot of emphasis on building relationships these days—even from our friends who eschew trends. And one thing that allows nonprofits to build relationships is hyperpersonalization.
Now, you may be reading this and thinking we're just talking about adding a name to your emails, and if that's what you have, definitely do that. But think about it: this is exactly what your donor data is for. Literally... why else are you collecting this information?!
Try segmenting your data in a way you haven't before. Or go deeper than you have before, until you have a segment with only a handful of donors. Then think big and ask yourself how you can surprise and delight these special donors. You may surprise and delight yourself.
3. FOMO extends to giving
With more and more causes to support, donors don’t want to miss out on being a part of changing the world. But soaring costs of living may mean they need to change the way they’re giving. Enter the membership, or recurring donation.
Think about it: Donors can commit to giving $10 each month and consider themselves true supporters of your cause. While you gain
- more cash each year
- predictable revenue
- a more engaged donor segment
- increased donor retention
So how to invite donors to forgo their FOMO?
Funraise Sales Manager Andrew Webb says that “having a call to action and steps like Funraise's recurring upsell incentivizes people to commit to a recurring gift versus a one-time gift.”
4. Year-round peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns
Why save peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns? When we relegate P2P to urgent needs or larger project funding, we close the door that allows people to support our day-to-day or smaller-scale programs.
Yes, traditionally, great P2P fundraisers incorporate urgency, goals, emotion, and momentum, but Funraise's Fundraising Specialist Dani Lockard is seeing nonprofits buck that tradition and engage peer-to-peer fundraisers in ongoing, year-round P2P fundraising campaigns.
Dani says, "Of course, ongoing P2P campaigns require a careful balance of urgency and commitment, but nonprofits who keep up the thread of engagement and utilize multiple types of communications are winning at the P2P game."
5. Strategic Partnerships
In keeping with the theme of this article, nonprofits are looking into new arenas for strategic engagement—new arenas like partnerships.
A great example is David Bowden, founder of Spoken Gospel, who discussed his strategic partnership success in an episode of the Nonstop Nonprofit podcast with David Schwab, marketing expert with Funraise.
...we learned the most by partnering with people who traditionally would be seen as competitors, but we saw them as collaborators. ...if we work closer together, we're both going to get better. And ...by doing that, we created a better resource and different distribution partners because we weren't afraid to partner with competitors.
Another route is building community-based strategic partnerships to take advantage of brands that are already recognizable to your audience.
Tony Sasso explains, "Increase IRL brand awareness and trust and become a real part of your supporters' lives by connecting with brands that supporters already love and trust."
He goes on to say, "Social media will be ablaze in 2024, so nonprofits considering increasing their reach and top-of-mindedness are looking at visibly partnering with businesses in their area. Whether these are nonprofit or for-profit, strategic partnerships offer new ways for supporters to interact with you as they go about their daily lives."
Giving Experience Trends
The giving experience is, more than ever, seeing its day in the sun as a pivotal moment that nonprofits can't ignore. Here are 5 trends making great giving experiences essential in 2024.
- Venmo and other modern payment methods
- Donor Portals
- Stocks and asset-based donations
- Intimate events
- Taking offline donors online
1. Venmo and other modern payment methods
Justin Wheeler, Funraise CEO and Co-founder notes, “As social interactions have gone digital, donations have moved into the digital realm as well, making it imperative that nonprofits' evolve their ability to accept those digital donations."
Making the donating process as easy as possible is key to converting donors at record-breaking rates.
2. Donor Portals
“Donor Portals are becoming more mainstream. Historically, a lot of giving platforms haven't prioritized independent methods for updating recurring gifts; donors must call the nonprofit to have changes made, which is demanding on the org and not the best experience for the donors. Today's donor portals expedite and improve the process for everyone." Thanks, Andrew Webb!
3. Stocks and asset-based donations
Thanks to Steve Latham of DonateStock, we've been shouting about stock and asset-based donations for several years now, but the tremendous wealth held in non-cash assets is on the cusp of 2024's fundraising trends. Now is the moment to jump into stock donations like Scrooge McDuck diving into a mountain of gold.
We could have attributed the above quote to David Schwab, but he actually said...
2024 is the year of asset-based donations.
4. Intimate events
Not only are they more cost-efficient, but smaller events can have a greater range of uses: cultivation, board expansion, peer-to-peer fundraising, funding for more focused initiatives, or, yes, general fundraising. Their intimate nature lends itself to urgency, personalization, and deeper relationship building, as well as giving donors a way to feel even more included in your cause.
5. Offline to Online
This worth-a-try campaign is a pretty exciting idea: why not transition your offline, direct mail donors to online supporters? Best case, you get more donations and have less data entry. Worst case, your direct mail donors still send in those little forms. Fingers crossed that we can read their handwriting!
Andrew Webb has the right idea: "Converting offline donors to online donors via QR codes in direct mail is becoming a way for nonprofits to bring their fundraising into the modern era—and their supporters along with it."
Let's shout it from the rooftops: Nonprofits are leading the way through some tumultuous times, and now isn't the moment for modesty. Let your donors know about your achievements and needs with these donor communication trends for 2024.
- Treating donors like investors
- Addressing donor or issue burnout
- Nonprofits as truth-keepers
- Person-to-person communications
- Prioritizing relationships above all
1. Treating donors like investors
As David Schwab relayed recently at the Nonprofit Storytelling Conference, "Getting your donors' head and heart buy-in is a matter of tapping into that investor mindset. The most impactful nonprofit stories engage their audience with an authentic moment of vulnerability and draw the donor in so they are invested in a better outcome."
2. Donor or issue burnout
2024 is going to be a year for the books—it's an election year, and our world is facing many grave challenges.
Tony Sasso's suggestion is to "focus your communication on Impact (with a capital I). People want to help, but it’s hard to understand how a single person can help with existential crises occurring all around. Revisit your organization’s story and pitch. Simplify it and make it easy to understand the impact of each gift. Make it unbelievably clear how a supporter is ending a pain or accelerating change with each interaction. This communication should happen both before and after a gift."
3. Nonprofits as a source of truth
In these days of conflicting truths, supporters look to nonprofits doing work that resonates with their values to find a source of truth they can trust.
Fundraising expert Jon DeLange comes through with clarification:
Philosophically, the trend of truth is really interesting to me: Donors outsourcing their epistemology to nonprofits they care about. This makes the nonprofit a de facto gatekeeper of truth. Supporters, essentially followers, extend a high degree of trust to organizations that they care about.
What a huge responsibility that has happened without nonprofiteers realizing what is going on!
It's not just technology that's trending. Jon DeLange explains a nonprofit fundraising trend he's paying attention to in 2024:
The low design/plain text fundraising email with a typed-out giving URL. This is an extension of the "emails from a friend" concept, which is where we see people building relationships with the sender. I've lifted our email programs by multiple six figures in the past two years using this trend effectively—people connect with people.
5. No trends! Just build relationships
Major Gifts Strategist Julie Ordoñez eschewed the trend train when we asked her predictions for 2024.
"No trends!" she said. "I don’t care that much about trends. AI's the big thing these days, but AI will never be able empathize or tell a story. Relationships, on the other hand, are foundational. Humans, and our authentic connection with one another, is more important over time."
Well said, Julie!
So, we've covered top trends, donor needs, and communication methods to tune into. But what about what you need, as a nonprofiteer? Here are 4 nonprofiteer trends for 2024.
- Snowball innovation
- Community involvement
- Nonprofiteer retention
Nicole Nidea, Program Director at SODA, has lots to say about automations. Saving significant time each week has made her a real automations champion: "After building automations, we could get simple tasks off our plate, maintain a lean team, and focus our human energy on things that matter—like meeting new advocates."
2. Snowball innovation
Work-life balance needs to be top of mind in 2024 with all the pressure nonprofits are feeling these days. That means progress will be small but impactful; snowball innovation.
3. Re-introduction to community
Again, global issues rear their head, but with a surprisingly happy result this time: community is back, and it's better than ever. Over the last few years, we've seen the idea of community change drastically. Andrew Webb is witnessing nonprofits reintroduce themselves to their community with new technology, new fundraising ideas, and renewed commitment.
4. The unspoken retention crisis: employee turnover
Wow! We didn't expect it, but there were a lot of people who had a lot to say about nonprofit employee recruiting, retention, and turnover. Here are just a few of the wisest nuggets we received from the expert leadership at DickersonBakker:
In today's competitive job market, it is becoming increasingly difficult for nonprofits to attract and retain skilled professionals.
Many talented individuals are drawn to nonprofit work because of the opportunity to make a difference and contribute to a meaningful cause. However, they may be deterred by factors such as limited resources, low salaries, and a lack of professional development opportunities.
Employee retention is a critical aspect of effective recruiting, as it ensures that your organization can retain the skills and expertise needed to make a meaningful impact.
Another smart hiring practice is to prioritize internal promotions and career development opportunities. By investing in the growth and advancement of existing employees, nonprofits can not only retain talent but also foster a sense of loyalty and commitment.
Many nonprofits are recognizing the importance of having a diverse leadership team that represents the communities they serve. This trend is not only driven by a desire for social justice but also by the realization that diverse perspectives can lead to more innovative solutions and better outcomes.
The demand for executive talent with strong digital skills is on the rise. As nonprofits increasingly rely on technology to carry out their missions, executives who are proficient in areas such as data analytics, digital marketing, and cybersecurity are in high demand.
And Derric Bakker, President of DickersonBakker, had this to say in an article earlier this year:
CEOs and front-line fundraisers are not in sync.
Overall, CEOs have a rosier view of how their organization is performing.
When respondents rated their organization in ten different areas, CEOs consistently scored their organizations higher than their staff did: Only 48% of CEOs think their organization is emphasizing the wrong fundraising goals, compared to 80% of fundraising staff. On the whole, CEOs seem more comfortable focusing on simple top-line metrics such as gross revenue, while front-line fundraisers want to focus on more sophisticated metrics such as donor retention, elevation, and net revenue growth.
Nonprofit Technology Trends for 2024
Finally, our favorites! Obviously, technology is Funraise's jam; we love a good digital fundraising tool! Here are four of the nonprofit fundraising technology trends for 2024.
- Tech awareness
- Agility in technology
- Data Science
Straight from Tony Sasso:
We’re seeing that many organizations are looking to save costs and reduce the additional resource drain of using too many different technologies. Over the last 5 years, many new single-use technologies have come to market, but now we’re seeing organizations weighed down by too many tools that don’t speak together.
Each different platform requires specific trainings and knowledge—knowledge that is hard to retain with nonprofit staffing turnover.
Increasingly nonprofits are looking to consolidate tech, and the ultimate efficiency gains will go to organizations who are able to unite their front end fundraising tools with their back end donor management tools—ideally into a single platform, like Funraise. Organizations that consolidate will benefit from improved donor relationships, more efficient workflows, decreased costs, and ultimately these benefits will lead to more revenue.
2. Tech Awareness
This one is more general and operational, but Jenny Flack, Funraise's VP of Sales, is seeing more disciplined/consistent tech audits.
The space is more noisy than ever; fundraisers may feel overwhelmed by the idea of keeping up, but the alternative is being reactive. Don't wait until your provider gets acquired or your platform is sunset to see what’s out there.
Jon DeLange also had something to say about tech awareness: "Beware of putting complex systems in place that one doesn't understand to save a few minutes here or there."
3. Agility in Technology
Jon DeLange gave us one bonus prediction that we couldn't pass up:
I predict we will see nonprofits excelling who are investing in this order: People, ideas, machines.
Organizations win when they can build simple, robust systems manned by smart people that can adapt to unexpected lateral stressors. When an organization instantiates complex systems at the expense of adaptability, they are making tradeoffs of adaptability... at a moment when the future is highly uncertain.
We need to be aware that when something breaks or we need to change strategy immediately due to unexpected environment changes, it will be the organizations who invested in adaptable people, ideas and machines who can pivot and win.
4. Data Science
Tim Lockie, CEO of The Human Stack, did a great job explaining exactly what we were thinking when he chatted with David Schwab on the Nonstop Nonprofit podcast. He frequently cites a statistic that started him on the road to improving nonprofit tech stacks: "90% of nonprofits collect data, but only 5% use that data to make decisions."
With that in mind, and the knowledge that technology is the second-largest purchase of a nonprofit, understanding your donor data, website traffic, conversion rates—and how they work together—is going to be essential as we move into 2024.
If 2023 has been any indicator, 2024 is gonna be a doozy! But now you have the trends that will take your year from fundraising folly to funding awesome.