The first post in the series examined the overall growth of digital fundraising, the second predicted an increase in social media’s role. Third, we discussed how smartphones will become increasingly important for digital fundraising and what future channels donors might prefer. Fourth, we offered what the nonprofit professionals are most looking forward to in the digital fundraising industry. Today we discuss how to stay on top of trends, as well as the prediction for the number of charities people will give to in 10 years.

The third post in our series talked about future channels that donors might prefer, and a 32% of the nonprofit professionals predicted something currently unknown to play a large role in where supporters will go to find information about their favorite nonprofits. That’s scary! How do we stay prepared for trends and channels that don’t yet exist?

It’s actually not as difficult as you might expect; we’ve put together a few tips and tricks to help you stay on top of things.

Attend conferences and webinars and network with other nonprofit professionals. These two tips go hand in hand, and are probably the best ways to be in-the-know when it comes to industry knowledge. Maintaining relationships with other nonprofit insiders is beneficial for everyone, because you never know what your organization might need or where the person you’re networking with might be working in the future. In addition, webinars and conferences are great places for people to share knowledge and strategies that help propel our industry forward as a whole. Conferences can be a great opportunity to really hone your networking skills. Quick tip: take twice as many business cards as you think you’ll need to every conference or workshop you attend!

Read industry reports and blogs. In addition to networking in person, you can stay aware of trends and industry data by reading reports and blogs. There’s a million of these out there, so find the reports or blogs that pertain to your specific sector (major gifts, mobile fundraising, peer-to-peer, etc). Keep bookmarks of your favorite sources and you can become an expert in your field from the comfort of your couch.

Invest and experiment with innovation. You’ll never know if something works for your nonprofit until you try it for yourself. A true commitment to innovation means staying aware of new technologies, keeping your website responsive and having the courage to try new technologies. Think about what kind of innovation applies to your nonprofit, and don’t be afraid to try it out! Being an early adaptor has many advantages and harnessing a strategy around new technology can really set your organization up for success.

Measure results and look for momentum in new areas. This tip also relates to the idea of innovation, in the sense that you can only recognize a future opportunity by examining the results of your current and past strategies. Keep detailed metrics of all your communication efforts and you’ll be able to visualize trends and opportunities as they develop. What’s the point of putting a fancy new technology in place if you don’t know how it’s performing? Don’t blindly assume that everything works perfectly, measure, analyze and create new strategies if your outcomes are not as high as hoped. If your outcomes meet or exceed expectations, use it to justify similar programs in other areas or other technologies that could bring even greater success.

Finally, we concluded our Next 10 Years in Digital Fundraising study by asking the nonprofit professionals if they expected the number of charities to which people give to increase, decrease or stay the same over the next decade. 44% believed the number of charities people give to would increase. Combining this information with data from The Nonprofit Donor Engagement Benchmark Study we conducted with NTEN, which found that the majority of individuals give to 1-3 charities per year, indicates that, in 10 years, donors could be giving to 3 or more charities per year.

 

Check out the full Next 10 Years in Digital Fundraising for more information on the tips and data presented in this series. For some quick tips on how to invest in your nonprofit’s digital infrastructure, please download our Interactive Investment Guide or read our Interactive Investment Benchmark Study to see where nonprofits are planning on investing in the digital infrastructure space.

We look forward to all the changes the next 10 years will bring to the nonprofit industry and we are thankful to all of you who took the time to respond to our survey. It is truly the individuals who work tirelessly towards their mission that make our industry what it is today, and what it will be tomorrow.