Nonprofits Can Ensure Fundraising Success in 2018...Starting Now
By Christina Yoon

Christina Yoon
Christina Yoon
Massachusetts nonprofits will face key fundraising challenges in 2018, but taking action early will help mitigate potentially negative impacts and even strengthen relationships with supporters beyond the next 12 months.

Here are seven fundraising developments that nonprofit leaders should watch this year ”“ and how to respond to each of these critical trends.

Tax reform has the potential to influence who gives and how much they contribute. Across the country, nonprofit leaders are bracing for the effects of the tax overhaul President Trump recently signed into law. While it’s impossible to predict the full impact of this legislation, organizations can take a number of proactive steps to set themselves up for success in 2018.

It’s imperative for development staff to be comfortable speaking about tax reform with donors. Encourage supporters to consider doubling up on their contributions, combining two years of giving into one. This will allow them to surpass the standard deduction threshold. Most importantly, continue to focus on the case for support and invest the time to properly steward donors. People give primarily because they care about the organization’s mission, so be sure to remind them of that connection.

Progressive organizations may continue to see an uptick in donor support.
The surges in giving to progressive causes that began after the 2016 presidential election could crop up again in 2018. Many donors still feel that their values—and the causes important to them—are being threatened in the current political climate.

For organizations that experienced a surge in post-election giving, the next year will be a crucial time for retention activities. Allocate additional resources, test new communication vehicles and strategies, and try out different types of fundraising appeals.

Millennials’ unique approach to philanthropy is prompting organizations to rethink their development activities.
Generation Y is shaking up the philanthropic field with its emphasis on deeper involvement. As this age group amasses wealth and influence, it’s becoming more and more important for organizations to respond with tailored fundraising strategies.

Be sure to offer donors a full range of opportunities to connect ”“ from making a gift and volunteering to peer-to-peer fundraising and advocacy work. Providing multiple touchpoints will build stronger relationships and allow donors to feel a shared ownership in the mission.

Online and mobile giving continue to grow, creating opportunity ”“ and a crowded landscape.
As nonprofits continue to adopt and adapt to new technologies, online fundraising appeals are more and more common. This saturation may make it harder to reach supporters as strategies such as crowdfunding become the status quo.

The online competition means that organizations must use technology cleverly and effectively. Don’t be afraid to experiment with new approaches, but ensure the foundation is strong: a mobile-optimized website and giving pages, clear calls-to-action in digital communications, and an active social media presence.

Donors are becoming more knowledgeable about philanthropy and judicious about their giving.
Many people are taking an increasingly practical approach to their charitable giving. They want to understand the nuts and bolts of the nonprofit and evaluate if their gift will effect measurable change.

Tracking and reporting data is critical. Communicate clear outcomes, both with quantitative metrics and with stories of those impacted by the organization’s work. Leverage the donor database and use analytics strategies to target the right donors with compelling appeals.

More and more, organizations are recognizing the value of mid-level giving.
Donors that fall between annual and major giving often don’t receive the attention necessary to move them down the pipeline. However, this is changing as nonprofits understand their missed opportunities and refine their approach.

Create a middle donor program to deepen relationships with this important group. Dedicate resources to customized communications and cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship plans.

Experienced major gift officers are hard to find.
The best laid plans are ineffective without a standout team to execute them. A problem that has long plagued the development field, the dearth of major gift officers is likely to continue in 2018.

To get ahead of this issue, focus on existing staff. Provide training and continuous learning opportunities to develop qualified major gift officers who already have a stake in the organization.

No doubt, 2018 will bring unanticipated surprises. By preparing for the predictable developments, nonprofits will be better equipped to navigate the unexpected.

Christina Yoon, PhD, is vice president of Campbell & Company, which helps nonprofits create greater impact through fundraising strategy and counsel. Call her at (703) 242”—0683 or email
December 2017