Skip to main content

Philanthropy Predictions

In 2019, a number of new trends will unfold in the philanthropic sector. From cryptocurrencies to increased mid-level activity, philanthropy experts share their predictions.

  • Carol Cone, Founder of the Purpose Collaborative, believes the U.S. economy will continue to slow in 2019. She suggests nonprofits and funders be clear on their strategy and purpose, create both long-term plans and alternate budget forecasts, diversify revenue sources and — most important — step up metrics. “Metrics matter more in tougher times, so expect more organizations in all sectors to up their game with digital impact trackers that are personalized for specific donors.”
  • “Alternative ‘digital’ financial vehicles like Bitcoin did retain their popularity [in 2018],” says fundraising expert Carolyn M. Appleton. She suggests enabling Bitcoin for your nonprofit. “I continue to believe these are forces to be reckoned with going forward.”
  • Also of value for 2019: “Nonprofits [need to] claim and fully complete their GuideStar profiles, securing the gold seal, if not the platinum,” adds Appleton. “GuideStar profiles are about transparency and sharing how professionally nonprofits operate to the public. It is free to claim and update, [and] a well-composed GuideStar profile is better than relying on charity rating services for endorsement.”
  • Programs that target middle donors are important fundraising engines today and key to developing pipelines for major gifts tomorrow,” according to Aly Sterling Philanthropy (ASP). This may be because retention rates are significantly better for people who make midsized gifts than for smaller-dollar donors; the Association of Fundraising Professionals recently reported a retention rate of close to 47% for first-time donors giving $250 or more, compared to 18% for those giving under $100. The firm suggests running a database report of your “middle donors” and analyzing the findings. “How many give consecutively? Call them and ask to meet for coffee to learn more about their loyalty, why they give and their potential interest in being more engaged with your organization.”
  • When the GlobalGiving nonprofit community shared its hopes and predictions for philanthropy in 2019, two themes emerged. First, community leaders recognize the value of collaboration and hope more nonprofits and governments work together to create positive change. Second, people from all over continue to press for organized action on climate change. These two predictions demonstrate hope for our shared world in 2019.
  • Considered the “godmother” of social purpose, Carol Cone says, “2019 will continue the dramatic shift toward people finding and funding causes via intermediaries. Think Facebook, PayPal, and Amazon. Third-party platforms make critical first impressions and are channels nonprofits and their partners can’t afford to ignore.”
  • “Expect to see clever communications via co-branded media channels, interactive serialized video, augmented and virtual reality and even new takes on old-school tools,” adds Cone. “One of the hottest advertising trends? Billboards. The take-away is to consider alternatives and make communications a core program strategy, not just a sideline.”
  • “Digital media and online giving platforms are growing in influence and here to stay,” according to Aly Sterling Philanthropy. “Nonprofits need to engage with potential donors via social media and digital channels where impacts and storytelling reign supreme,” ASP says. Digital media and giving platforms are and will remain the primary venues for soliciting donations from generations X, Y and Z. Its suggestion: “Ask friends/colleagues of a few different age groups — with limited understanding of your mission — to explore and critique your website from their computers and their phones.” Ask for feedback about the clarity of your message as well as the ease of using your technology and make some changes.
  • Citing a steady increase in charitable giving in the U.S. since the Great Recession, National Philanthropic Trust, a public charity dedicated to providing philanthropic guidance to donors, questions the trend in increased giving and is concerned that the American donor pool is shrinking. “The share of American households that are donating is decreasing. According to one study, more than two-thirds of Americans donated to charity in 2000, but in 2014 that number was down to 55.5%. A shrinking donor pool raises a lot of questions, such as: ‘Will charitable giving in the U.S. start to reflect the values of high-net worth more than the average American? And how will charities have to adapt to appeal to a shifting donor base?’ ”
  • “Impact investments will gain traction,” adds the National Philanthropic Trust. Impact investing advances financial and philanthropic goals by contributing to projects that generate a positive social return in addition to a financial one. Investors can accrue gains on a socially beneficial investment, which can then be re-invested and/or granted. It sees increasing popularity with donors, like Millennials, who want to stay close to their charitable investment and also maximize its impact. “A recent study found 77% of affluent millennials include impact investments in their portfolio,” the group said.
  • In the past decade, giving circles, in which individuals pool their money and decide collectively how it will be donated, have tripled in number to an estimated 1,600 such groups in the United States. Philanthropic strategist Bruce DeBoskey predicts that giving circles will continue to grow and reports that they have donated nearly $1.3 billion and engaged more than 150,000 donors. He says, “Four out of five giving circles focus their efforts on local causes — highlighting human services, the welfare of women and girls and education.”
  • Adds DeBoskey: “The use of the 2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a philanthropic roadmap will continue to increase as domestic philanthropists recognize the important role the goals can play in focusing all of us on the achievement of the globally shared objectives of a better and more sustainable future for all.”

Subscribe today to get the latest industry news, resources, and career opportunities.