Fundraising in 2030

Fundraising in 2030. Looking so far ahead may feel daunting. After all, in 2020, very few of us were able to look beyond even the next few weeks, let alone months or years.

It’s fair to say 2020 turned the fundraising world upside down, forcing all of us to rethink. One thing we can all agree on is that the role of technology will be vital in the future. But how can charities make sure they’re on the front foot, and using tech to the greatest effect?

A range of key industry leaders across Australia lent their thoughts to us – and the result is a thought-provoking view of their most important lessons from the last decade, the last 12 months, and what they think the fundraising world will look like in 2030.

In Rethinking Change: Fundraising from 2020-2030, these experts build a rich vision of the shape of fundraising in 2030. We’re excited to bring you two of these perspectives as
a preview of the report.

Create relationships, not transactions

Annabelle Chauncy OAM, CEO of School for Life Foundation, warns that the increasingly transactional nature of digital interactions may undermine the most valuable resource fundraisers will have over the next 10 years: relationships with their donors.

For Annabelle, fundraising is at its heart  a two-way opportunity for connection, relationship, and growth: “Your relationships are the most important things fundraisers have. Donors are not ATMs, they need to be thanked and appreciated.” 

The priority for fundraisers over the medium term, according to Annabelle, is to ensure that the digital spaces provide greater opportunities for relationship building, not less. More and more, digital fundraising offers donors connection not only to the organisations they’re supporting, but to the beneficiaries of their generosity, too.

“VR and AR technology may help connect the donor to the cause more quickly and video communication and Zoom will make it easier to create virtual events,” says Annabelle.

The key remains, however, that new modes of operation must always be geared towards higher, deeper levels of relationship and engagement.

Chauncy also acknowledged the temptation to ‘hide’ behind an email, rather than using the tried-and-tested methods of interaction, like in-person and on the phone. “The most successful fundraisers will communicate clearly, with personalisation where they pick up the phone instead of hiding behind emails!”

Embrace Artificial Intelligence

Casting ahead to 2030, AI technology represents a paradox for fundraisers in the next 10 years. On the one hand, it marks a potential shift away from traditionally personalised forms of communication. On the other, it also opens up a far greater number of relational avenues.

According to Tim Paris, Chief Executive Officer at Dataro, achieving that second goal depends on how willing fundraisers are to lean into AI technology. “AI has the power to massively improve the way charities raise funds and engage with their donors.”

Tim makes a bold prediction when estimating the uptake of AI by 2030 to assist the sector:
“In the next 10 years all charities will be using AI to better engage with and support their donors.”

It’s worth noting that AI doesn’t just mean putting robots on the phone. Often, AI technology can help refine the process of putting donors in connection with the organisations they support for maximum efficiency.

“A client ran a retention campaign to their recurring givers who were most likely to churn – with the list identified by AI,” says Tim. “One donor said: ‘I was thinking of cancelling, but because you called me I’ll keep supporting your organisation.’ This really shows the power of using AI to talk to your donors at the right time.”

Beating the AI paradox will be a challenge that many fundraisers face, but once the sector has a handle on this technology, it will transform how relationships are managed and nurtured.

Our sector is characterised by resilience and agility, and the traits and strategies covered by these and seven other contributors will prove to be nothing short of essential in the 2020s. It’s time for a decade of rethinking change. 

Download the full version of Rethinking Change: Fundraising from 2020-2030