Kevin's Contrarian Predictions in Fundraising for 2022

fundraising projections and predictions Jan 10, 2022

Kevin's Contrarian Predictions in Fundraising for 2022

Last week I shared some trending themes for 2022. I covered the overall movement of the market into a more donor-centric and personalized space mirroring the for-profit space with a mix of convenience, communication, and visual impact. This week I am going to share some more controversial (perhaps contrarian is a better word) predictions for 2022. Hope these three predictions get you thinking!   

1. In-Person Events: This is controversial, and I am going against the grain to say in-person events are coming back. However, I’ve attended, organized, and run many events in 2021 and overall people are happy to be back in person. The virtual events just aren’t cutting it anymore and to have a deeply meaningful fundraising event as hybrid is IMHO ridiculous. Hybrid events work for conferences and meetings but are significantly less effective (even when done well) for fundraising. Just choose one. If your event is in person, consider a virtual highlight reel after, or just one talk live streamed. But the two groups will have drastically different experiences. It’s the way it is.

Events might look different; I am not saying they must be sit-down galas or large gatherings, but I am saying that in-person is key for 2022. It might be a donor appreciation happy hour, an outdoor picnic, an open house where people stop by at different times, or a socially distanced event without a meal… whatever it is I strongly sense people are tending to want to gather together and be in person again.

Feel it out and try something in-person this year – when you are confident reinvent your best-performing events of the past (before someone else does).

Bonus Advice: ask for sponsorship. Event sponsorships have been at a minimum for the last two years and this is different from a donation because business owners can deduct it as an advertising and promotion expense.

2. Recurring Giving Struggles: Also, against the grain, I predict that nonprofits will struggle to grow their recurring donations. The general population is sick of subscriptions. With the average consumer spending $273 in subscriptions, the concept of a small amount each month that someone cannot “feel” in their budget is… well… breaking people’s budget. Recurring donations are not subscriptions, but for all intents and purposes, the donors see them as such. With apps being developed to help users end subscriptions, it’s clear that recurring monthly payments are less glamorous than they once were.

Just like the job market is moving towards people changing jobs faster than ever before, those in the US tend to love the freedom of flexibility. This is why in my previous article I mentioned: Retaining donors is going to continue to be just as important as finding new ones. My advice in 2022 is to work on retaining donors and getting the next gift, rather than tying people down to a recurring payment when possible. 

People are more conscious of feeling they are signing up for a subscription they cannot get out of. I believe giving donors access to a giving portal and allowing them to manage their gifts without them having to call will be the minimum requirement for most donors to consider signing up for online giving and a selling point up-front.

3. Social Media: I am seeing social media turning into a more powerful resource for non-fundraising engagement than raising funds. With so much content out there, it is rare to see a small to mid-sized nonprofit successfully utilize social media as a fundraising mechanism. 

Although nonprofits report that Facebook and Instagram are vital to their operations, only 18% of donors worldwide have given a donation through social media. This is not impressive. 18% of DONORS (not people). According to the Philanthropy Roundtable, only 60% of households contribute to nonprofits – making that percentage an abysmal portion of your audience.

People report that they will give more, they intend to give, and they feel like they are generous – but dollars to likes, I see this ROI is not where it should be. I predict nonprofits that focus their social media on engaging their audience will can get further. That doesn’t mean never asking for money on social media, it means realigning the primary goal of your assets and refocusing your strategy. Social media is a great place to get the news out, to tell stories, to stay in constant communication, to stay relevant. I think social media is a better place to ask your audience to take action than to give. Signing petitions is one way I have helped nonprofits convert their social media contacts into email and direct mail recipients, which walks them further down the road to becoming donors.  I recommend focusing at least 75% of your calls to action on non-fundraising items and limiting your appeals to make them more potent. Retaining donors is going to be more important than ever (see above), so making this asset work for retaining donors, and gathering data to better personalize their experience (#1) will give you a better payoff.

We will see what the year brings and whether my predictions pan out. Until then, best of luck to you, and thank you for being a catalyst for good in our world.