By Wendy Mercurio, Content & Education Specialist at Qgiv — an online fundraising platform empowering 20,000+ nonprofit fundraisers to raise money for their causes while keeping costs low.

December is an important month for nonprofit fundraisers. A lot of time, effort, and preparation goes into ensuring end-of-year campaigns produce all the funds needed for organizations to sustain their important missions. Being up to date on fundraising trends for the year ahead is important so you can diversify and maximize your fundraising success!

Planning for the year ahead, however, can bring on an array of reactions and emotions among fundraisers. When asked how fundraisers were feeling about 2024 planning in the recent webinar, Five Fundraising Trends to Watch for in 2024, “overwhelmed,” “excited,” “hopeful,” and “tired already” were common responses.

Reflecting on the past success of your fundraising efforts while also learning about emerging fundraising trends can help you decide how to best allocate resources for the upcoming year. Exciting fundraising trends on the horizon for 2024 include peer-to-peer fundraising, giving flexibility, digital wallets, unconventional and emerging donors, and AI being used in fundraising.

1) AI in fundraising

Fundraisers’ opinions on using AI tools in their work vary. Some feel as though the new technology is helpful, while some believe AI can be inauthentic—and others simply don’t know enough about it to fully trust it. It’s important to note that AI, automation, and machine learning are increasing in usage and popularity and aren’t going away anytime soon!

Fundraisers can receive helpful cues from these intelligent tools. At Qgiv, we’ve used AI and machine learning to help detect fraud, suggest dynamic giving amounts, automate thank you emails, and more. CRMs and other fundraising tools have used machine learning for years to send fundraisers notifications for lapsed donors and notifications when a recurring donor’s card is close to expiring. When a fundraiser receives a notification that a donor is close to lapsing, they can reach out and reconnect with that donor. Keeping donors connected with the mission ensures the best possible donor retention rate for an organization.

AI and fundraising automations can help fundraisers work smarter, not harder while simultaneously saving tons of time! Qgiv’s Sustainable Giving Report found that most fundraisers are feeling overwhelmed with their workload and are working only occasionally with the proper number of staff. AI can help busy fundraisers feel less overwhelmed by reducing the amount of time spent on daily tasks!

2) Recurring Donors and Giving Flexibility

Recurring or sustaining-level donors are supporters who are excited to provide ongoing support and have a long-term impact on your organization, whether this is on a biweekly, monthly, or on a quarterly basis. Here are three reasons why your organization should embrace recurring giving in 2024:

  1. We are in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis. Wallets are stretched thin as the prices of everyday items are continuously increasing. The Sustainable Giving Report covers this topic in depth and found that 75% of donors have had their finances negatively impacted by inflation but 80% of donors continue to donate! Donors are looking to stay connected to and support the organizations they care most about, and a recurring giving program helps donors break a larger gift into smaller, more affordable portions.
  2. Subscription style spending is also the norm for many consumers. Most donors have scheduled auto payments that process each month, varying from streaming subscriptions to utility Nonprofits can mimic these spending habits through recurring giving. Donors are familiar and comfortable with this type of spending and are likely to connect and engage with this donation style.
  3. Recurring giving also helps organizations foster better donor engagement. For example, with each communication to your recurring donors, you can explain to them exactly where their money is going and how it supports the cause. Leverage the power of storytelling to add extra personal detail to your supporters’ donations and foster a deeper bond with your sustaining level donors. This extra level of donor engagement and connection will transfer to an increase in donor retention as well!

3) Peer-to-Peer Fundraising as an Acquisition Tool

Some fundraisers might shy away from peer-to-peer fundraising. It can be hard to break out of the 5K mentality! However, there are many formats of peer-to-peer fundraising that expand far beyond a traditional race. Here are just a few exciting examples that outline different peer-to-peer events your nonprofit can try in 2024:

  1. It Takes a Village: Using Peer-to-Peer to End Homelessness
  2. What Do Swans, Affordable Healthcare, and Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Have in Common?
  3. Fundraising Opportunities: How to Use Peer-to-Peer for Year-Round Giving

At its core, peer-to-peer fundraising is a strategy that allows your supporters the chance to fundraise on your behalf! Donors can make an individual or team fundraising page and collect funds on your organization’s behalf by soliciting their networks.

Peer-to-Peer fundraising can build a major gift pipeline for your organization as well! Qgiv found that peer-to-peer was the driver for 50% of new donor interactions. Fundraisers are constantly trying to acquire new donors, and peer-to-peer fundraising is a great way to do that!

4) Unconventional Donors

Utilizing unconventional supporters and up-and-coming donors gives fundraisers the opportunity to reach new audiences and raise more money. In 2024, fundraisers should prepare to welcome the rise of influencers, celebrities, and Gen Z donors!

Local celebrities can increase awareness of an organization tremendously. Members of your community will be excited to see local celebrities supporting your organization or fundraising event and want to do the same. However, knowing where to start and how to connect with these personalities can be tricky! Asking your board and committee members is a great place to start. Some of the hard work may already be done with pre-established relationships. When a local celeb is secured, it is crucial to make their participation as easy as possible. Fundraisers can create social media posts, promotional calendars, and other helpful resources to amplify the celebrity’s time and support! Micro-Influencers: What They Are & Why Nonprofits Need Them outlines additional strategies to connect with local celebs!

Gen Z are often referred to as ‘philanthro-kids’ and for good reason! This generation of donors, born between 1997 and 2012, are excited and passionate to support the missions they care most about. More information about this influential generation can be found in the blog post, Generational Giving: Generation Z Giving Trends, Preferences, and Patterns.

One third of Gen Z view their philanthropic support as part of their legacy. This group is known for vetting an organization by looking into their impact reports and online presence. Organizations can connect with this younger demographic of donors by ensuring their donation forms, website, and social media pages are up to date and mobile friendly. Organizations will also want to recruit Gen Z donors to participate in peer-to-peer fundraisers, as mentioned earlier. They are excited to support your organization and fundraise for the causes they care most about.

Relationships fundraisers establish now with Gen Z donors should be viewed as an investment in your organization’s future. These philanthro-kids are eager to have an impact on their communities, and 2024 is a great year to connect with these up-and-coming donors!

5) Digital Wallets for Easy Payments

Digital wallets are quickly becoming an essential feature rather than a nice convenience. A study from Forbes found that over half of Americans prefer to use digital wallets as a payment method. The article also found that most who use digital wallets are spending more, and over half would stop shopping with a vendor that did not allow digital wallet payments. Fundraisers should interpret this as needing to accept digital wallets to meet the preferences of most Americans. In return, donors may provide larger gifts. And if an organization doesn’t accept payment from digital wallets, donors may simply decide to stop supporting that organization altogether.

Not only are digital wallets ever present, but they are also a simple and trusted payment option.  In fact, providing donors the option to complete a donation or transaction with a digital wallet decreases donation form abandonment! Donation forms that include digital wallet payment options allow donors to donate with minimal clicks and feel an instant sense of trust when recognizing payment options they use regularly.

Final Thoughts

It is important to consider fundraising trends in your planning for the year ahead. All of the trends listed in this blog can help your organization improve donor relations and diversify fundraising revenue! A few things to remember:

  • Expectations of fundraisers are high, and the resources of development teams are stretched thin. 2024 is the time to embrace AI tools to free up your time.
  • Time spent connecting with Gen Z and other up-and-coming donors is important. The bonds formed today with ‘philanthro-kids’ will prove to have a big impact for many organizations in the future.
  • Recurring giving programs provide donors the ability to give at a pace that is comfortable for them while still having the large impact they desire.
  • Embracing peer-to-peer fundraising in 2024 can foster deep bonds with your supporters while filling your donor acquisition and major gift pipeline.
  • Convenience is king with digital wallets! Now is the time to include digital wallets on donation forms to allow donors to give with their preferred method.

The year ahead will yield opportunities and challenges for fundraisers. But being ahead of the philanthropic trend curve will set organizations up for fundraising success. Happy New Year and happy fundraising!

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