What are the trends affecting the philanthropic sector in Canada? How can we prepare our organizations to weather changes and thrive in the future? Guest Marina Glogovac, President and CEO of CanadaHelps joins the podcast to talk about their 2018 Giving Report and its implications for our sector. Together we rant about the challenges we are all facing and offer some ways to move forward.
Introduction to the Giving Report
CanadaHelps recently released their 2018 annual Giving Report, a public education tool designed to inform Canadians about trends and issues affecting the charitable sector. This year the report was focused on the “imminent funding crisis” for our sector.
CanadaHelps hopes both those in the charitable sector and the general public will pay attention to the alarming trends of giving in Canada so that we can take action now before it’s too late.
For instance, 30% of donations are at serious risk of exiting the charity over the next 10 years. You might be thinking, 10 years? Who cares right now?
When you combine this with an increasing need for services based on consumer and demographic trends, you’re faced with a collision of less funding that won’t satisfy the demand. Less available service means longer wait times and more stress on the organization - especially if they are dependent on direct giving from donors. These charities will feel stretched out thin to deliver, maintain and keep up with this demand.
Understanding the crisis our sector is facing
Giving is down across all age groups, in average gift amounts and the number of people donating.
Back in 2015, one in four people donated, then in 2016, one in five people donated. Just in those two years, participation went down from 25% to 20%. In addition, the average annual donations in Canada has decreased from $365 CAD to $343 CAD. Donors aged 55 and over are giving more money than the average donor - but this group is shrinking.
The next cohort, aged 45 to 46, replacing them is experiencing the largest decline in participation. Once you get into younger demographics, there is a completely different reality where they aren’t donating as much as their parents do. Add in your total annual revenue and you might start realizing that this doesn’t look too good for the future.
When we are faced with a crisis, most people “fight, flight or freeze”. The same is true of charities, and right now, most are just frozen. We can’t expect to get new results without doing new things. And we can’t prepare for the future by staying stuck where we are. This also rings true for our risk tolerance in charities and our need to focus on capacity building. We cannot be afraid to invest or things will never change.
The younger demographic is the future
Today the giving environment is complex and filled with younger people who value user-experience and have a different set of expectations we haven’t really seen before. Younger demographics need to be communicated with on different channels and are structured around influence and what causes they can relate to.
Millennials want to feel good and achieve a social good - and non-profit organizations can help them by making their case through effective storytelling on social media.
Charities were the original experts at storytelling to drive participation and resonate with the public, especially when it came to crowdfunding. Many corporations are copying and appropriating this language of storytelling and advocacy and using it for internal marketing purposes and employee engagement. Charities need to get better at storytelling again and rethinking their strategy around different online channels.
Let’s get digital
The fact is that we live in an era where younger people have fundamentally different preferences and that they are becoming the next target cohort.
The solution starts from within: charities need to invest with a huge sense of urgency into their own capacity. Everything and everyone is now online and mobile. Charities need to invest in digital literacy and digital transformation technology where they can take advantage of free access to technology and reach these younger demographics where they are.
Charities need to learn how to optimize their websites, systemize online donor acquisition and retention through their email strategy, enable Google and create a framework of key performance indicators. Nonprofits can leverage these new tools and technologies once they invest not only in the ability to deliver on the mission but in the staff who constitutes the charitable sector. When organizations build talent and expertise around these areas, they also improve their business skills and strategy as well as succession planning and too!
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Resources from this Episode
The Good Partnership Guide
CharityVillage Fundraising Articles
Imagine Canada's Charities, Sustainable Funding and Smart Growth Paper
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Cindy Wagman spent 15 years as an in-house fundraiser at organizations large and small before founding The Good Partnership – a boutique fundraising firm focused on small nonprofits. She has worked in social justice, health, arts, and education organizations. She has overseen and executed everything from annual campaigns to multi-million dollar gifts. She became a Certified Fundraising Executive in 2009 and received her MBA from Rotman at the University of Toronto in 2013.
With more than ten years of experience in development, staff and stakeholder management, strategic thinking, partnerships, board governance, and program development, Aine McGlynn is a diversely talented, self-starter committed to finding creative solutions in unexpected places. Aine holds a PhD from U of T and has a history of academic publishing, along with her decade of nonprofit sector experience. She is a practitioner-scholar focused on how to help nonprofits build their capacity to be successful at fundraising.