Fundraising trends for 2024
2023 was a tough year for many in the charity sector, with the cost of living crisis hitting many hard, both in terms of higher demand for services and a difficult fundraising landscape. With the new year well underway, we look ahead to what trends are likely to affect organisations' fundraising programmes in 2024.
- Cost of living crisis to continue
Inflation may be lower right now, but that doesn’t mean the cost-of-living issues have gone away, and nor are they likely to in the short or medium term. Although indications are that people are still giving to the causes which matter to them and doing so incredibly generously, the chances are that recruiting new donors is going to be increasingly difficult. That means retaining those you have – which should already be a huge priority – is only going to get more important. Understanding why they give, what they care about and ensuring they feel valued and informed will therefore be crucial. As is generally the case, economic issues affect those at the top less than those lower down. Therefore, major donor fundraising should become an ever-increasing part of your fundraising mix.
- Challenges with staff recruitment
We have been hearing from clients and other charities for a while now about how difficult it can be to recruit new staff. COVID saw a great many people leave the sector, and we have seen an increasing number turning to freelance careers, which gives greater flexibility. That means the talent pool of experienced people is more limited. There are still great people out there, but the competition for them is intense. That is having an effect on salaries, but we all know that fundraisers are in it for more than just the money. Flexible working, opportunities for personal development and feeling connected to the cause are all key factors in both retaining existing staff and finding new ones. This isn’t a time to take your fundraising team for granted.
- AI for fundraising
It seems you can’t read an article about the future of any sector without hearing about the role artificial intelligence is going to play. Fundraising is no different. The challenges and the opportunities for this developing technology are huge. It will allow charities to create personalised communications to their donors, based on the information available on them, and write copy more quickly and more engagingly. We have even seen AI used to polish corporate partnership proposals, ensuring they are aligned with the language and concerns of the partner. Meanwhile, Chatbots can handle donor enquiries and provide them with the information they need, making donating quicker and easier.
What AI can’t do, at least not yet, is replace the human element. It can make arduous tasks quicker, but there is no replacement for the personal touch. Human to human contact will remain the most important part of any fundraising programme.
- Culture wars
Perhaps one of the most depressing trends in recent years has been the way certain sections of the media and online commentators have sought to jump on bandwagons and bad-mouth organisations who are not acting 100% in line with their personal politics. From the uproar over the National Trust’s efforts to educate visitors about the slave-owning or other less than laudatory pasts of those who owned their properties to the RNLI being accused of being “a taxi service for illegal immigrants” by Nigel Farage, charities can find themselves on the frontline.
As we enter what is almost certainly going to be a nasty and divisive election year, the culture wars will only hot up. However, this does not have to be a bad thing. As the huge increase in donations to the RNLI showed, the point about a culture war is there are lots of people on both sides. It is, I think, an important lesson to remember for charities; not everyone has to love you. It is more important to appeal to those who are on your side, than to be universally popular. Charities shouldn't seek controversy for controversy’s sake, but nor should they fear it.
If your organisation needs help navigating 2024's fundraising trends and challenges, then our team of fundraising and charity management experts can help. Get in touch today to find out more.