Latest news

Fundraising trends: What’s working, and how can we improve?

28 Sep, 2023

As fundraising and advancement continue to evolve, staying ahead of the curve is essential for institutions aiming to make a meaningful impact.

In this article, we delve into the latest fundraising trends that are proving effective in today’s rapidly changing environment, and offer tips on finding and retaining new donors.

  • Say thank you: This research paper published in the journal Sustainability advises that disgruntled donors’ number one complaint was not receiving feedback – and a simple thank you. “The received answers indicate that it is important not only to say thank you, but to do it in such a way that the patron has the feeling of satisfaction and joy when donating,” the paper said.


  • Avoid controversial issues as far as possible: In an increasingly polarised world, it’s becoming more important than ever to focus on the mission at hand and not become involved in “culture wars”. “We should focus on donors’ philanthropic priorities, not their cultural views, and keep our personal agendas to ourselves,” says this report from the Winkler Group.


  • Take a closer look at success stories: Donations to UK universities doubled from 2012 to 2012, according to this article. Some of the success factors the report lists include “the importance of creating cultures for successful philanthropy across institutional leadership, including among academic leaders; and creating fundraising propositions that both capture the ambitions of the institution and are expressed as compelling invitations for investment in institutional success”. Among the recommendations contained in the report are to provide more structured training for people working in advancement.


  • Keep things personal: In a world increasingly defined by personalisation of products and services, fundraising also needs to shift to personalised outreach. “Fundraisers have increasingly understood this and have taken great strides to make sure that their teams are equipped with the right information needed to make all their donor communications personal and meaningful,” says this Gravyty article. This requires a greater focus on high-quality and up-to-date data on donors, and staff who are able to extract, analyse, and implement what can be learned from the data.


  • Keep them coming back: Donor retention strategies are a must-have, especially when research shows that just 20% of first-time US donors are likely to become repeat donors, while those who have donated more than once are 60% more likely to become consistent long-term donors. “Existing donors are already familiar with your organisation and have been attracted to your message in the past,” Gravyty writes. A trend to watch out for is AI software that is increasingly helping advancement teams monitor donor behaviours and patterns, and adjust and react quickly.


  • Cash is no longer king: Smart payment solutions have been a buzzword for years. This DonorBox article says that, by 2026, 60% of the world’s population will use digital wallets. If you’re not already accepting Yoco, Snapscan, Zapper and similar payment methods at your events, it’s beyond time to plan for it.


  • Explain your spend: Donor feedback in overseas studies show that one of the biggest frustrations experienced by donors is lack of feedback. “When donors give to your higher education institution, they want to know who or what they’re supporting. By showing donors the real impact of their gifts, you emphasise the fact that their donations make a tangible difference,” says this RedPath article.