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6 Digital Fundraising Trends to Look Out for in 2019

SEPTEMBER 22, 2018

Every business surviving in today’s digital world needs to keep up with its technological advances and find a way to use it to their advantage; non-profit businesses are no exception. Fundraising methods are constantly evolving, even more so now than before, going from costly charity events to a simple donate button on your website. To add to that, the technological changes that donors experience around them drives them to expecting similar changes in NGOs.

So if NGOs want to make it in the digital world, they will not only have to evolve with current digital fundraising trends, but also predict future trends and adapt accordingly. Here are a few trends that have a high probability of dominating the non-profit sector in 2019.

1.  The New Wave of Donors

So far, all businesses have been focusing their marketing efforts towards millennials; and it made sense since they were the reigning cohort of consumers and donors. But now, it is time to focus on the next, younger group: the GenZers.

According to studies, 76% GenZers are worried about the planet and 60% want their work to make a difference. Moreover, 30% have already donated to an organization; and this is only when they make up 27% of the population. For your NGO to succeed, you need to start altering your strategies to cater to this young generation before they make up 40% of all customers, which will predictably happen by 2020.

GenZers are also looking towards volunteering to build their résumé; 70% of high schoolers are interested in volunteering while 26% 16-19 year olds are active volunteers. If you start involving GenZers in your community fundraising efforts as local and social ambassadors and event volunteers, they will be more inclined to donating to your organization and even become recurring donors.

Another important fact about this generation that might help you cater to them better is that, since they are the first mobile-only generation, they will prefer mobile apps for giving. So if you already have a website, make sure it is mobile friendly and look into developing an app for it.

2.  Multi-step Donation Pages

Click, click, type, click. That is usually how filling out an online form goes, and it goes on for a long time. It’s boring, and more importantly, it gives donors enough time to opt out of donating to you. But the solution here is not to slice down the form because you need all of that information. What you can, and should, do is section the form out to make multi-step donation pages.

This makes for a user-friendly, interactive experience for desktop users and provides ease and comfort for mobile users. Also, you can adapt this type of form into your app that, as seen earlier, you need to develop. To add to that, it also gives the user the feeling that the process is moving forward, hence making the process a lot less boring despite it being the same length as a full-length form.

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3.  Constant Disruption by Commercial Players

Thanks to the rising number of socially aware social media users, most of the big social media platforms are starting to enter the non-profit sector. In a sense, it’s a good thing; the social issues get more exposure and more people donate towards the cause, but it also means bad news for NGOs.

When raising funds digitally, NGOs charge “charitable fundraising fees”; which allows them to use part of the donations they receive for marketing and other costs. This is done because these funds are the only source of income NGOs have and if they give away all of the money to charities, they won't have any money left to keep the organization running.

Social media platforms don’t have to worry about this since they are for-profit companies doing charity work on the side; they can afford to have 0% charitable fundraising fees. Other than this, all social media platforms have direct access to information on potential donors, which will help them target their marketing more efficiently.

All of this will have a big impact on non-profit players like GoFundMe, GlobalLiving, and Volunteer Match and can potentially upset other, small scale or startup NGOs. So, while this trend won’t help you, you should keep an eye on it and adjust your digital fundraising strategies accordingly.

4.  An Evolved Definition of “Overhead”

No business should be allowed to waste money. When it comes to NGOs, however, people believe that any money not given to charities is wasted; dubbing such expenditures as “overhead costs”. An NGO’s effectiveness is based on how low it manages to keep this overhead cost rather than how optimally its social outcome goals. This puts limits on how much a non-profit can spend on administrative costs like research, evaluation, financial management, and marketing, eventually constraining its ability to reach its full potential.

As Dan Pallotta rightly said in this TED Talk , “Our generation does not want its epitaph to read, "We kept charity overhead low. " We want it to read that we changed the world, and that part of the way we did that was by changing the way we think about these things.”

The more people are realizing the toxicity of this definition, the more they are opening their minds to allowing nonprofits to reserve part of their funds for important administrative spending, as long as they effectively achieve their social outcome goals. This new definition of overhead will allow you to optimize your digital fundraising activities and marketing to garner more donations by letting you use part of those donations for research and marketing.

5.  Videos Are In

When people decide to donate, they do so without expecting in return. So for them to readily give you their hard-earned money, they need to be 100% convinced of your cause and intentions. Traditionally, this was done through speeches, drives, and pamphlets; few years ago, social media posts were added to this list and were quite popular for a while. Recently however, videos have been taking over the limelight.

Videos, according to multiple studies , are the most popular form of online content and are predicted to grow further in coming years. Even social media platforms boost video posts, even more so if they are recorded and posted on the platform rather than imported from other places. Also, social media users engage with and share videos that are, on an average, 2 minutes long.

So, having a video marketing strategy for your NGO will only do you good. Instead of writing up a long paragraph or linking a blog, make a basic video about it and couple it with a few short sentences.

6.  Don’t Ignore E-mails

Despite the emergence and popularity of social media, e-mails have not lost their charm; in fact, it is a trusted source of communications, especially for fundraising. Yes, it did lose some fans thanks to the hype around social media, but statistics say that it is back and here to stay. Studies also show that personalized emails improve click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%.

So it’s time to pull out your email marketing strategies, dust them off, tweak them, and put them to good use.


If you want to successfully run a non-profit organization in today’s digital world, you need to keep up with its trends and, more importantly, use them to your advantage. In 2019, digital fundraising may get harder due to for-profit players entering the sector but you will also have various tools to combat and overcome those obstacles; you just need to know how to use them.

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