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The Future of Fundraising in Australia?

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A recent post by Louise Williams on the Fundraising Institute Australia LinkedIn group recently asked the often repeated question. What will fundraising look like in ten years?

What do you think?

My thoughts…

Looking at the data, it really depends on the size of the charity. Nearly all donations, statistically speaking, go to a couple of hundred charities, and the top 50 of them get the majority of that.

So, looking at those guys and ignoring government and sales of services, we see that by far and away the bulk of that money comes from direct mail, face to face, bequests, and major donors.

Things like affinity deals (book a hotel and 3% goes to charity), fashion parades, fundraising events, fundraising offers, and auctions can be very important fundraisers for smaller charities but despite a few outliers (eg Cancer Council NSW superb events program, Movember and Inspired Adventures trips abroad across several top charities) they don’t add up to a massive slice of total fundraising.

Of course, if your charity makes all of its money from such events you may feel different, but it doesn’t change the fact that the bulk of income comes from individuals giving through regular gifts and direct donations, and this is dominated by the biggies.

I don’t see this shifting enormously in the next ten years – though I do see one area that will almost certainly give face to face a bit of competition:

Regular givers acquired by telephone, following lead generation techniques. This is already huge in Australia and is growing near exponentially. Charities run surveys, campaigns, online and offline to generate leads and then they are called for regular giving.

A group convened by Pareto Fundraising, now run by the FIA and consisting of lots of charities, is working to encourage the telecommunication companies to help include SMS lead generation in the mix. This is massive in UK and Spain, leading to the London Underground building in a quota system to stop all ads on the Tube being charity ‘please SMS this number to donate…’ ads. Note that the point of these ads is not the donation but the number to call to get a monthly donation.

Also, sensible charities are investing much more in bequest marketing these days; although the bulk of the income from that area won’t be in the next ten years, enough will come in towards the end of the next decade to make a significant impact.

Back in 2004, face to face began to provide more than half of all new regular givers, whilst direct mail plodded along. By 2014, face to face provided nearly 90%(!) of all new regular givers and direct mail was providing twice as many ‘classic’ donors as it was in 2010 when it’s recent growth spurt began. I see continued growth for these two, despite the competition, for at least another half-decade.

‘Direct digital’ donations – ie acquiring donors through online ads to online forms – currently provide a smidgen of donors (except for disasters) but this will definitely change. How much in the next decade is hard to tell.

My thoughts… Anyone else?


  • Sean Triner

    Sean Triner is a Co-Founder of Moceanic and Pareto Group. With over three decades of experience in fundraising and a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in mathematics, Sean has a wealth of fundraising expertise to share with Moceanic members and blog readers. He is also a coach and available for bookings on the Coaching+ program for fundraisers to help answer your questions and work hands-on directly with you.

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