In honor of Back to the Future Day tomorrow (the day that Marty McFly went back to the future), we’re taking a look at what the future might have in store for nonprofits. There’s been a lot of discussion about what Back To The Future II got right and wrong, but it also opens up discussion on the future of nonprofit fundraising.
There are over 1.5 million nonprofits in the United States alone and that number is growing year after year. What will be a passing fad and what will be the day to day reality for nonprofits in the coming years?
Going the way of the fax machine
One of the most glaring things that the movie got wrong was the everyday usage of fax machines, which was obviously incorrect. What other “sure-fire” things are nonprofits wasting energy on today that won’t be around in the future?
- Text To Give: One of the most damaging things a nonprofit can do is put too much importance on SMS giving, in which a short code is generated that leads to donations being applied to the donor’s mobile phone bill. While extremely effective in emergency situations, the reality is that many nonprofits will waste important time and resources on this approach to fundraising.
- Crowdfunding: There’s a time and a place for a crowdfunding project on a platform like Kickstarter and nonprofits are overextending themselves when it comes to this funding opportunity. There’s a difference between leveraging your network of supporters and hitting them up constantly for one off projects through the lense of crowdfunding.
- Role Based Fundraising: Assigning an individual person to do all your fundraising will only lead to dissatisfaction in your organization. Collaboration and communication are the keys to success and fostering an environment that doesn’t pigeonhole your team into a series of defined tasks and will allow greater flexibility for donor engagement.
Hoverboards are here
Another thing that always comes up when Back To The Future II is brought up is hoverboards. However, what happens if our hoverboards are already here for the nonprofit sector?
- Mobile: This may seem contradictory to the above point but mobile giving is very different than text to give. 66% of your potential donors are reading email and engaging websites on a mobile device so having a mobile optimized giving page is of the highest importance. People want to give on their phone, just not through their provider’s billing system.
- Effective email: 45% of nonprofits send out monthly appeals. Yet how effective are your emails? Being able to segment, personalize, and make your email appeals stand out is going to become more important in the years to come.
- Direct Mail: That’s right, physical mailings will only become stronger in the years to come. While having a great email appeal system is important, direct mail is going to reach every segment of your donor base. And yes, that includes millennials.
The best thing your nonprofit can do is invest into strategies that focus on who your donors are and how they can feel empowered to assist your mission. Fads come and go and can damage nonprofits due to their power to sway your board of directors to concentrate on something that has no staying power. However, ignoring changing shifts in donor behavior can also have disastrous results.
It’s these moments where we all wish we had a time machine to travel to the future to know what will stay and what will go. But at least we can all agree that the Cubs will win the World Series in 2015, right?
For some ways to bring your fundraising back to the future, check out our list of innovative strategies!