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Fundraising Trends: 6 Modern Strategies to Consider for 2020

Sayana Izmailova  14 January 2020  0 comments

This is a guest post from Steven Shattuck, Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang



The start of a new year is both the most joyous and overwhelming time for nonprofits. It’s also a good time to reflect on how fundraising has changed over the past year and to look forward to future trends. Keeping the newest ideas of the industry in mind can help you stay up-to-date with the latest craze and boost your growth strategies. 

This is especially true when it comes to nonprofit technology. A lot of the upcoming trends in the fundraising world revolve around tech: streamlining digital processes for both donors and nonprofits. 

Emerging fundraising trends for 2020 that we’ve decided to focus on in this guide include: 

  1. On-the-Go Operations

  2. A New Type of Fund

  3. Gaining a New Perspective

  4. Adding a Personal Touch

  5. Tapping Into CSR

  6. This Idea Isn’t Just Sci-Fi Anymore

As your nonprofit develops a calendar for 2020, remember that fundraising trends change from year to year. Ready to jump in? Let’s get started. 

1. On-the-Go Operations: Mobile Optimization



One of the major trends in 2020 is the evolution of remote work for nonprofits. No longer should your staff members need to log into their computers in order to make quick updates. That’s why we use mobile devices! 

When your staff members can access important data about your nonprofit straight from their smartphones and tablets, they can better prioritize and track progress for work from anywhere.  

For instance, if you can access your organization’s CRM dashboard from your phone, you can always see high-level, important metrics such as campaign progress and donor retention rate. This helps you keep these metrics at the forefront of your mind when on-the-go. 

Past a high-level data dashboard, your nonprofit should also make sure you can dive deeper into various aspects of your strategy. For instance: 

  • Productivity. Setting tasks for yourself or your colleagues on your phone helps you stay on top of the most important projects from anywhere as well as collaborate more easily. 

  • Donor research. If you’re prepping for a meeting with a donor, some last minute research on your phone about the donor’s interests, family members, or history with your nonprofit can make the meeting much more successful. Plus, you can record new data to the donor’s profile right after the meeting while it’s still fresh in your mind. 

  • Donor stewardship. Check the activity feed for your organization from your phone. This means you can immediately reach out and acknowledge gifts no matter where you are (or you can set a task for a colleague to reach out). 

  • On-site donation. Take online donations via card with a swiper or by typing in the card details. You can also attribute cash donations to donors right away so that you don’t lose track of names and faces while accepting these gifts. 

Situations occur frequently where access to specific strategic elements of your nonprofit through mobile-optimized tools can be incredibly helpful.

For instance, let’s say you have a table at a local farmer’s market. You should make sure it’s easy for donors to give at the table while they’re doing their shopping and that it’s easy to attribute these donations to individuals in your donor database.

As another example, let’s say you’re at a local coffee shop reading or watching the news and see a story about a donor who is being offered an award by the community. You can quickly make a note or create a task for someone at the organization to send that donor a note of congratulations. 

2. A New Type of Fund: Donor-Advised Funds



Donor-advised funds are growing more and more every year. While they don’t make up a large percentage of overall giving just yet, they’re becoming increasingly more popular due to the tax incentives associated. 

And what exactly is donor-advised giving? 

According to this article, it’s “a form of philanthropic giving in which an individual creates a ‘personal charitable savings accounts’ and deposits their contributions of cash, stock, or other assets without choosing a specific recipient right away.” 

The major benefit of donor-advised funds is that supporters can receive a tax benefit as soon as they contribute to the account. The account is handled by a financial service so that the amount can grow before it’s donated. 

Some of the other notable characteristics of donor-advised funds include:

  • They’re incredibly resilient. This means that even during an economic downturn or financial hardships, donors can still contribute to their community nonprofits. 

  • Large financial firms like to manage donor-advised funds. Major financial firms are getting more and more involved with these accounts, giving donors the security of a name they recognize. Donors can create their accounts with big names like Fidelity, Vanguard, and Schwab. 

  • Some of the most generous donors are likely to have these funds. Donor-advised funds are not something that nonprofits should ignore because they’re increasingly popular with some of the most generous donors. 

After a donor has put money into the fund, they can advise the financial firm about where they’d like to make a contribution. Then, this money is given to the nonprofit in the form of a grant. 

If you note which donors make use of these funds in your database, you can actively engage with them and focus on building your relationships. 

3. Gaining a New Perspective: Appealing to Younger Donors



When nonprofits think about generational giving, they’re usually only considering the Matures (born before 1945), Baby Boomers (born 1946 - 1964), Generation X (born 1965 - 1976), and Millennials (born 1977 - 1995). This leaves out a very important group of upcoming supporters: Generation Z.

Generation Z, or Gen Z, is comprised of those born after 1996. They’re also sometimes referred to as “philanthro-kids” due to their philanthropic tendencies (just think about Greta Thunberg’s environmental activism at only 16!). 

This young generation of supporters is growing up fast with the oldest reaching age 24 in 2020. As they enter the workforce — and even before — nonprofits should be ready to reach out to these newest supporters as they’re the future of nonprofit contributors. 

Here are some strategies to help your nonprofit appeal to these youngster supporters: 

  • See how many of your current supporters are Gen Z. This can help you create stewardship or acquisition strategies as necessary. If your CRM doesn’t facilitate this research process, it may be time for an upgrade. Check out Bloomerang’s donor database article to choose the best solution. 

  • Check out mobile giving opportunities. Mobile usage among Gen Z is incredibly high. Therefore, your organization should make sure to meet them where they are. Consider setting up text-to-give options, adding a donation button on Instagram, or other mobile opportunities to encourage these supporters to engage with your mission. 

  • Build out your monthly giving programs. Gen Z grew up in the world of subscriptions. The “set it and forget it” mindset is a strong incentive for these supporters. This means they may be less likely to visit your website to make regular donations. However, they may be more likely to participate in an automated monthly giving program. Make sure you emphasize your recurring gift options for these supporters to ease the giving process. 

Younger generations are the future of all organizations. Make sure your organization is ready to welcome them with engagement opportunities that take their needs and desires into account. 

4. Adding a Personal Touch: Personalized Outreach



You’ve probably read before about how important personalization is as you reach out to your supporters. In the coming year, as more and more communications go digital, there’s a danger of letting those communications become impersonal - which means that donors are likely to feel like they don’t matter to you, especially when things like this happen: 



When you buy fundraising software, look for something that allows your organization to auto-populate the name of supporters and relevant information from their donor profile from your donor database into emails, direct mail letters, and other messages. Include information such as the supporters’: 

  • Preferred names

  • Donation history

  • Events attended

  • Campaigns supported

This is especially important for your nonprofit’s email strategy. Check out these two examples: 

To whom it may concern,

Thank you for attending our nonprofit’s most recent event and for your generous contribution. We hope to see you again in the future! 

That’s not very personal. The email could be going to anyone about any event and any donation amount. Compare that message to the following: 

Dear Karen, 

Thank you for attending our annual Night Under the Stars Gala. Your generous contribution of $200 will help support our campaign to build a new animal shelter. We hope to see you at next year’s Gala! 

See how much more personal that was? Ensuring your details are correct and specific will help your supporters feel more connected to your organization, supporting the relationship you’re working to build with them. 

5. Tapping Into CSR: Growth in Corporate Giving



Another trend in the nonprofit world that your organization should keep an eye on as you enter the new year is the growth in corporate giving. Corporations are starting to feel a stronger sense of social responsibility for the community. 

An increased sense of corporate social responsibility leads to the introduction of new corporate philanthropy programs. These programs include various ways that corporations can help nonprofits like yours. For instance: 

  • Matching gift programs. Matching gifts are donations made by companies that match some ratio of gifts made by employees.

  • Corporate sponsorships. Corporate sponsorships are support provided to nonprofit organizations from a company in return for brand advertisement or other benefits. 

  • Community days. Community days are the days when a company encourages all of its employees to go and volunteer at a community nonprofit. 

  • Volunteer grants. Volunteer grants are contributions given to organizations where employees of the contributing company volunteer. Generally, the company agrees to donate a certain amount in response to the employee volunteering a certain number of hours. 

Nonprofits have a tendency to focus on the individual contributions made by donors. While these are great, ignoring corporate giving opportunities is like leaving free money on the table. Ask your donors to do some research (or provide a matching gift database) to learn if their companies have these types of programs. 

Lately, society has been pushing corporations to be less selfish and to give back to the community more. Therefore, in 2020, make sure your nonprofit is taking full advantage of these opportunities from corporations. 

6. This Idea Isn’t Just Sci-Fi Anymore: Artificial Intelligence



Artificial intelligence isn’t quite what’s portrayed in traditional sci-fi movies. Don’t worry, robots aren’t taking over the world just yet. 

Instead, artificial intelligence is a tool that nonprofits can use to better communicate with supporters. According to DonorSearch’s article, artificial intelligence can be helpful in a variety of ways, such as: 

  • Automating data cleansing. Instead of manually sorting through hundreds of individual constituent records or screening your donor database, invest in a software solution that will automate the mundane, routine task of cleansing mailing addresses, email addresses and phone numbers. This allows your staff to maintain high response rates when conducting outreach, while also spending more time on fundraising instead of data management. 

  • Responsive, suggested gift amounts. Instead of static online giving pages who present visitors with the same giving ladder, responsive giving ladders that suggest unique gift amounts for each individual user based on previous visit and giving history, geography and other demographic information will soon be the norm.

  • Generating summaries about supporters. Instead of filing through all of your donor information in a convoluted donor database, your tech can use set algorithms to pull important information for you. For instance, you may look for an engagement or generosity score to quickly learn about your supporters. 

However, make sure your donor data is clean before doing so in order to avoid fails like this: 



With the proper tools, your nonprofit can streamline tasks at your organization, saving your team members a lot of time. This time can then be redirected to what really matters: your mission. 


As 2019 wraps up, we can take an inventory of all of the lessons we’ve learned and fundraising successes we’ve had…


But remember, 2020 brings even more opportunities for success. By implementing some tips to leverage these top trends, your nonprofit will be ready to take on the new year!


Read More: How to Prepare a Nonprofit Fundraising Plan


steven shattuckSteven Shattuck is Chief Engagement Officer at Bloomerang and Executive Director of Launch Cause. A prolific writer and speaker, Steven is a contributor to "Fundraising Principles and Practice: Second Edition" and volunteers his time on the Project Work Group of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project and is an AFP Center for Fundraising Innovation (CFI) committee member. 

Sayana Izmailova

Posted by Sayana Izmailova

Published Tuesday, 14 January 2020 at 12:11 PM
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