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What will fundraising be like in 2020?

by Christiana Stergiou

Bernard Ross and the crew at The Management Centre have developed a great wiki about the future of fundraising. Here’s my contribution.

The Long Tail will get longer:

Although some of the fundraising scenarios here recognise that many of the current ‘blue chip’ charities will be replaced, there will always be a core of big players in every nonprofit marketplace. The current players who are particularly slow to react or respond because of their internal bureaucracies will be left for dead. 
But what about the rest? Smaller, nimbler and more effective nonprofits will spring up to make an impact on the causes dear to their tech-savvy and well-connected founders. In effect, this will create a long tail of hundreds of thousands of smaller organisations able to use their wired networks to create the impact that they desire. Already, in most countries, fundraisers bemoan the fact that there are ‘too many’ nonprofits. Well, you aint seen nothing yet. These new small nonprofits will be:

  • One hundred per cent online. They will have no need to be encumbered by the costs and limitations of offline real estate and bricks and mortar.
  • Borderless: There will be no need to restrict fundraising to a geographic location. Fundraisers will predominantly build their networks online and connect with donors all over the world. And donors won’t concern themselves with where the organisation is based, to get the impact they desire. Donors from Australia will want to give clean water to kids in Africa, if that’s their thing. They won’t care where the organisation is located.
  • Shooting stars: From these new small nonprofits, occasional stars will shoot. They will be the ones that make giving fun and addictive, will look at everything from the donor’s point of view (see impact, below), be passionate and unfailingly determined and have tremendous whuffie (also known as reputation, trust and credibility in online communities and networks).

It’s all about impact:

  • Dollar value on impact. Nonprofits that can put a dollar value on an outcome will continue to come out on top. Often called a ‘dollar handle’, this nifty tool is becoming more and more prominent. At charity:water your gift of US$20 will give one person clean water for 20 years. At Concern Worldwide your gift of US$28 can provide the uniform, books, pencils, and paper a child needs to attend one year of school.
  • Donors will respond more generously when they have the opportunity to connect directly with beneficiaries. While Twitter will have been superseded by who knows what, we’ll see more campaigns like the recent TweetsGiving at Epic Change, where donors could communicate directly with kids at the local school in Tanzania. Simply beautiful.
  • High impact collaborations: High-end donors will want to work together to have more impact, and will expect nonprofits to do the same.
  • New-breed social entrepreneurs like Blake Mykoskie at TOMS Shoes will bypass the traditional charity model altogether and opt for creating massive, direct impact. Over the last few years, Blake Mykoskie has given 400,000 pairs of shoes to people in need all around the world.

Fundraisers everywhere in the world will get wired and more effective at their jobs (that is, raise more money):
Fundraisers will become more informed than ever before, with resources like the Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration (SOFII) and hundreds of fundraising bloggers forming a strong and diverse fundraising and learning community.

  • Goodbye Microsoft Office: Small nonprofits will finally take full advantage of online technology, and not just for fundraising. There are already so many free and affordable collaboration and communication tools such as 37SignalsGoogle DocsGoogleWave and Yammer . While these tools will be superseded, tools like these will change the way fundraisers work.
  • Nonprofits will understand that websites are not the be all and end all to the web. The smart ones will come at technology that promotes storytelling, collaboration, networking and conversations (hey, isn’t that what fundraising’s all about?)
  • Video killed the radio star: Nonprofits will finally understand that video is a great way of sharing their stories and fundraising, thanks to YouTubeVimeo and the current new breed of nonprofits like charity:water.
  • It won’t just be SMS, although right now, SMS makes it incredibly easy to give, as we’ve seen in the massive and generous response to the January 2010 Haiti Earthquake. But moving beyond that, there will be new mechanisms and technologies that will mean we can donate with our mobile phones (or whatever it is you call them these days!) With just one click, no web forms, no barriers.

There are many more experts’ scenarios on the Fundraising Scenarios wiki. I’d particularly draw your attention to:

Please join the conversation. What do you think fundraising will be like in 2020?

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