How 2016’s Business Giving Trends Affect 2017

With 2016 entering the end of its final quarter, a new fiscal year is just days away for businesses. What were the strongest business giving trends of 2016 thus far? It seems that non-profits continue to experience the effects of an economy rebounding from recession. Analysts of charitable giving trends report that just as donations were trending upward throughout 2015, that trajectory has been sustained in 2016. Non-profits reported an overall growth rate of 1.6 percent. Things are looking good for charitable organizations in 2017. To determine a direction for the upcoming year, let’s examine what was behind the strongest growth that occurred in 2016.

Going Big

Perhaps no one went bigger than Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. In December of 2015, Zuckerberg celebrated the birth of his first child by pledging to donate 99% of the net worth of he and his wife over their lifetime. At the time of the pledge the pair were worth an estimated $45 billion. Making good on that promise, the couple started with a $600 million donation to a San Francisco facility that conducts research on childhood diseases. When such a phenomenal gesture is made in such a public way, it encourages imitation. Non-profits can expect similar big moves by Zuckerberg’s peers.

Consumer Modeling

Today’s successful charitable organizations are taking their cues from the business sector. Consumerism drives business. Shrewd marketers are some of the most coveted employees, especially in the retail and service industries. By knowing who their target market is, what they want and how they are inspired to buy, businesses are able to fine tune their advertising and marketing strategies for maximum potential. Non-profits who come around to model their own approach to visualizing potential donors as consumers are seeing the benefit of this perspective. In February of this year Jay Ferro, CIO of the American Cancer Society, coined the phrase “360” view with regard to how non-profits should see their potential donor market.

Personal & Now

It has often been the case that a philanthropic person has chosen a cause and funded it until the day they die. There is a growing trend where benefactors give to different causes that they personally identify with. One other condition that determines where they put their donor dollars is the possibility of being able to see results within their lifetime. Many modern donors want their giving to be deeply meaningful on a personal level and transformative in the here and now.

Social Change

Social movement organizations are on the receiving end of a Millennial generation that is energized by a worldview dominated by social awareness and fairness. Organizations that provide support for the effects of inequality, such as non-profits that are a safety net for the underprivileged and underserved, are also competing with organizations that are striving to change the source cause of those conditions.

What It All Means

When you tie together the strongest trends of 2016, it is easy to see that the priorities of donors have not necessarily changed. What has changed is their expectations and how they operate. Non-profits need to recognize a consumer group that are accustomed to being highly regarded in the consumer market arena where they put their spending dollars. This same esteem must be extended by charitable organizations in order to garner the confidence of the donor.

Just as consumers expect to see immediate results when they spend consumer dollars, they expect to see results when they donate. They are practical enough to not expect immediate results. However, they have a minimal expectation to see enough rapid progress to become confident that their goal could be realized within their lifetime.

There is a vast non-digitally connected donor market to tap into. Non-profits should focus efforts on reaching this market and assisting them in getting connected. This, in and of itself, is also part of the dynamic of bringing about positive social change. In today’s digital age, it is practically impossible to consider one’s self as living a life of equality on a level playing field if one does not have Internet access.

The trends going into 2017 are all connected through connectivity, digital, and human alike. Groups like SimpliGiv help donor and non-profit organizations achieve their connectivity and charitable goals. By meeting the demands of this common thread of 2016’s business giving trends, this type of non-profit model may be the strongest trend to come in 2017.

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