2017 is coming to a close and despite what you might think based on your social media feeds, things are going pretty well. We are one step closer to sustainable nuclear fusion as a power source, NASA discovered a solar system with seven Earth-like planets, and I finally finished my binge watch of “How I Met Your Mother” just hours before it was taken off Netflix. (R.I.P. HIMYM on Netflix.)
As for nonprofits, 2017 was definitely a good year. Total charitable donations rose to a new high of $390 billion in 2016 and are projected to rise by 3.8% in 2018. Things are looking good for the nonprofit sector next year in terms of monetary giving, but what about nonprofit technology? What about demographic shifts that will impact you beyond 2018?
In order to keep you up to speed on the changes that will affect your future fundraising and efficiency, I’ve put together a list of five technology and demographic trends your nonprofit should be aware of for the coming year.
This year, I want to look into technology trends that threaten the security and fundraising abilities of nonprofits and what you can do to lessen these threats.
1. Website encryption
Web security trends are not positive. According to Phys.org, Google found that the number of hacked websites rose 32% in 2016 and that trend has shown no indication of slowing down. Hackers are taking advantage of websites falling behind in cybersecurity measures. Even major brands such as Verizon and government agencies such as the CIA were exposed to major hacks and leaks in 2017.
Nonprofits handle and store lots of personal information from donors and corporate partners and it’s crucial to keep that information safe.
That’s why Trillion named website encryption as one of the top ten nonprofit website trends for 2018. It is important to move your website (if you haven’t already) from HTTP to HTTPS, which encrypts your website and all interactions taking place on it. In fact, Capterra just recently made the switch to HTTPS in order to protect our information from potential intruders.
2. Opt for electronic alternatives to personal checks
The last time I wrote a personal check was eight years ago to pay for my AP United States Government and Politics exam in high school and I haven’t written a check since. It appears that I’m not the only one leading the check-less life. According to NPR and the Federal Reserve, the use of checks has been on a steady decline since the year 2003, down to only 15% of non-cash payment transactions, and is slated to continue its slip.
Use of checks declining, via NPR
It’s not just consumers writing off their checks—the U.K. announced a plan back in 2009 to phase out checks by the year 2018. What is driving this change? Convenient electronic methods of payment such as ACH payments and credit/debit cards, and even newer methods such as Venmo, Paypal, and Apple Pay are driving the personal check to extinction.
So what does this mean for nonprofits? Millennials are the largest generation of the U.S. population at 25.9% and 84% of Millennials give to charity, which adds up to an annual donating average of $481 dollars per person, according to MobileCause. However, over a fifth of Millennials have never written a check and if the trend of dumping checks continues, that number will only continue to rise for subsequent generations.
MobileCause found that Millennials are more likely to contribute money over the internet or through “donate via mobile” campaigns. In order to attract more up-and-coming generations, nonprofits should focus more on electronic methods of payment for donations.
This is not to say that you should cut out checks altogether within the next year, but modern fundraising methods become more important with each passing year.
Blackbaud Institute produced an interactive report on the giving habits of each generation. I’ve broken down the key takeaways for each generation, including how much each generation gives, who they are giving to, and how they are giving so that your nonprofit can plan your fundraising efforts accordingly based on the data.
3. Older generations give more
What to take from these numbers:
These numbers don’t clarify whether giving levels include monetary and non-monetary goods, but the next trend explores the fact that Boomers and Matures skew towards giving physical goods to charity. This means that the higher monetary values for these older generations may include physical goods along with monetary giving.
The two younger generations may not make up as large of a segment of donors now, but investing in new Gen X and Millennial donors will ensure giving stability as they do become the largest sector of the giving pool.
4. Gen X’ers give money, older generations give their time (and stuff)
What to take from these numbers:
Non-religious organizations will get more traction with younger generations than older generations. Also, nonprofits that need monetary donations should focus more on Generation X givers, since Baby Boomers and Matures prefer giving physical goods and volunteering.
According to other research, Millennials also share this preference for volunteering over giving money, but this may be a temporary mindset due to Millennials being at the start of their careers. In order to foster a healthy pool of future donors, it’s important for nonprofits to provide non-monetary methods of giving back for Millennials, investing in their desire to do good.
5. Electronic giving is taking over
What to take from these numbers:
Nearly half of Millennials, Gen X’ers, and Boomers prefer to give solely through an organization’s website. This is a huge pool of electronic transactions alone without counting mobile donations from Millennials and Gen X’ers.
Electronic means of fundraising are increasingly more important as mentioned before and in the coming years Millennials and Gen X’ers will inevitably overtake Baby Boomers as the largest givers in the nonprofit sector. It’s best to get a head start on this shift in giving methods before the tide changes.
How will your nonprofit implement these trends?
Each nonprofit organization has their own takeaways from these trends based on the demographics they appeal to and the existing functions they provide.
Now that you have the information you need, what plans or changes do you see your nonprofit making over the coming year? Be sure to let me know your thoughts in the comment section below!