Nonprofit Technology

5 Nonprofit Trends to Keep in Mind for 2018

Published by in Nonprofit Technology

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.

Technology trends

In previous years I’ve covered trends such as crowdfunding, peer-to-peer fundraising, mobile fundraising, and the Internet of Things.

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, 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.

Protect your valuable data by leveraging cybersecurity software solutions. You can find a product that fits your needs in the Capterra directory.

For a detailed guide on transitioning your nonprofit website over to HTTPS, read up on the process on Kathleen Pequeno’s blog.

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.

Ready to make the switch to electronic payments? Check out payment processing software solutions in the Capterra directory.

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.

Demographic trends

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

Millennials (Generation Y)

  • 11% of the total giving pool
  • 60% of Millennials give an average of $481 per year across 3.3 charities

Generation X

  • 20% of the total giving pool
  • 59% of Generation X give an average of $732 per year across 3.9 charities

Baby Boomers

  • 43% of the total giving pool
  • 72% of Baby Boomers give an average of $1,212 per year across 4.5 charities

Greatest Generation (Matures)

  • 26% of the total giving pool
  • 88% of Matures give an average of $1,367 per year across 6.2 charities

Source: Blackbaud Institute

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)

  • Millennials prefer to give to organizations that focus on children’s charity (38%) and health charity (33%).
  • Generation X shares one preference with Millennials when it comes to health charities which makes up 39% of Gen X giving. Forty percent of Gen X’ers give to places of worship and 37% gave to local social services.
  • Baby Boomers lean more towards giving to places of worship (46%) and local social services (52%). Boomers also prefer giving physical goods to charity (62%).
  • Matures lean heavily towards giving to places of worship (50%) and local social services (55%). They also heavily skew towards giving physical goods to charity (72%) and volunteering (42%).

Source: Blackbaud Institute

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

Millennials (Generation Y)

  • 62% give through their mobile phone
  • 59% give through their workplace
  • 53% give through a retail purchase
  • 47% give through organization websites
  • 43% fundraise on behalf of an organization

Generation X

  • 53% give through their workplace
  • 49% give through a retail purchase
  • 47% give through their mobile phone
  • 46% fundraise on behalf of an organization
  • 40% give through organization websites

Baby Boomers

  • 46% give through their workplace
  • 42% give through organization websites
  • 40% give in response to direct mail solicitations
  • 30% donate in honor or as a tribute
  • 21% give monthly

Greatest Generation (Matures)

  • 52% give in response to direct mail solicitation
  • 34% give in honor or as a tribute

Source: Blackbaud Institute

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!

Looking for Nonprofit software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Nonprofit software solutions.

About the Author

Nick Morpus

Nick Morpus

Nick Morpus is a former Capterra analyst.


Comment by Scott Rarden on

Just to clarify the ‘website encryption’ and usage of https. Https encrypts the communication between your browser and the website server, and is incredibly important, as pointed out in the article, to secure communication of things like logins and other sensitive information. It requires a secure certificate which can be had for free now from a service called Let’s Encrypt (, and many website hosts offer easy setup for that as part of their service. If you have a website, you should just serve it using https. There are ways to make the http forward to https so you don’t break any bookmarks or links to your site from other sites.

However, it doesn’t make your website hack proof. If you run a website, you still need to do all the other items on a good website security checklist. It doesn’t encrypt your code on the server, it doesn’t encrypt your database, and there are many other ways hackers can get in and hack your site that it does nothing to prevent.

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