Everyone is talking about it. It’s hot, hot, hot! The future of fundraising has always been on the minds of nonprofit organizations and their supporters, but why is it now the topic du jour?

Maybe it’s because 2015 is a big year! Marty McFly and Doc Brown traveled to 2015! Ok, maybe a popular movie from the 1980s doesn’t exactly correlate to fundraising, but it does speak to this; 2015 is an advanced, ultramodern year. Or, it at least gave the impression of being futuristic back in the 1980s. Also, where’s my hoverboard?


Now that we’re here in 2015, it sounds less ultramodern and more present-day – because it is present-day. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a good time to look at the future of fundraising.

Charity Dynamics celebrated its 10th birthday last fall. That milestone made many of us here think about the last 10 years. This brought up a lot of great points about how much fundraising has changed. Facebook was created 10 years ago… to a millennial like me, it’s almost hard to remember the days before Facebook. How did I tell my friends that I was running a 5k for cancer? How did I get people to come to my dinner party that was raising money to preserve the sloth’s habitat? I guess I told as many as I could in person, then I called my grandparents and a few others. I literally asked the same 5-10 people every time I was a participant in a fundraiser. That’s a pretty small group. Luckily Facebook and other social media sites have changed that.

Social media has made those fundraising asks wayyy easier and far less time consuming. I can ask my high school friends, college friends, co-workers, family and anyone I’m connected to on social media now – with just the click of a button! Did anyone predict that back in the 1980s?

So, onward to the future… everyone is talking about it, but there’s no way to know exactly what is going to happen. Various nonprofit professionals have made their predictions as have experts in the field. My fellow teammates at Charity Dynamics and I have already written quite a few blogs on what we think will happen and what the nonprofit professionals we surveyed think will happen. I’m here to give you some pointers on how to stay in-tune with the present and prepped for the future.

Here are my top 3 tips on how your nonprofit can be an early adapter when the future of fundraising becomes present-day fundraising.

Take hoverboad lessons. Of course I mean this as an analogy. You, or someone in your organization should take the proper steps to be informed on the newest technologies that impact fundraising. Not only know of them, but know how to work these new technologies into your overall fundraising strategy. If wearables are all the rage 5 years from now and your supporters are fundraising with them, make sure you’re acknowledging, enabling and encouraging them! Also, if hoverboards finally exist, yes take lessons for those too, don’t get yourself hurt on a hoverboard.

Test drive the DeLorean first. Have you ever been in a DeLorean? When I was growing up, my neighbor actually owned one. Sadly, it was incapable of time travel, but it sure looked cool. Not sure if that car ever left my neighbor’s house though. Can you imagine taking it to the grocery store and parking next to someone? You’d do some serious damage trying to open those doors. Ok, you’ve got the picture… I’m saying that if something seems cool and futuristic, test it out first. Trust your gut on things. If something seems like it just won’t work in the real world, test it before you spend tons of money on a new technology that your supporters may not like.

Zemeck yourself before you wreck yourself. Wait, what? Robert Zemeckis originally had no plans to make a sequel to Back to the Future. But after the first film was such a hit, he decided to go for it. But he’d only make a sequel if his 2 main stars, Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd, would be in the film. He knew that they were large contributors to the success of the first film. Ok, maybe the theme of this tip was a bit of a stretch, but I’m telling you that your organization needs to look for momentum and act on it! If something is taking off with your supporters, look in to it! And always, always measure your results.

I hope you enjoyed my over-the-top referencing of Back to the Future II, but more importantly, I hope you are considering the importance of planning and researching for the future of fundraising. Take advantage of this being such a hot topic and learn as much as you can about expected technology, trends and engagement strategies.

Check out the full Next 10 Years in Digital Fundraising for more information on the actual predictions of nonprofit professionals. Also, for some quick tips on how to invest in your nonprofit’s digital infrastructure, please download our Interactive Investment Guide.