2020 Philanthropy Predictions – Part I

Welcome to 2010!  (Is that Two-thousand and Ten, Twenty-Ten, or Oh-Ten?)  Whatever the name, our new year and new decade are here.

At the end of 2009 (i.e. last week), I promised a list of philanthropy predictions for the next decade so here goes!  I’m going to provide 10 predictions in total.  The first three are listed below and have to do with how technology will change our work over the next 10 years.

So, without further delay and direct from my crystal ball. . .

2020 Philanthropy Prediction 1:  Online giving will account for 15-18% of total giving in the U.S. In 2008 (the year in which we have the latest data), online giving totaled over $15.4 billion.  This total represented just over 5% of the total given in the U.S. – an incredible 44% increase over 2007 numbers.  To put this total in further perspective, in 2001 the total given online was just $550 million.  That means in 7 years, the amount given online has increased by a whopping 2,703%!

With this incredible rate of increase, one might wonder why I am predicting a rather sluggish online giving expansion — from 5% to 15-18% of total giving — by the 2020.  The reason is two-fold:

  • First, I am predicting a large increase in total giving for this decade (more on this in a future post).  Therefore, even at 15-18%, the total dollars given online will represent an impressive increase.
  • Second, I believe that leadership gifts will still be secured via person-to-person interactions.  Lead gifts will still be a full-contact effort in 2020.  Therefore, if we follow the 80-20 principle (i.e., 80% of gift revenue comes from 20% of donors through personal major gift asks — which even today is conservative), a prediction that online giving will account for 15-18% is rather strong.

2020 Philanthropy Prediction 2:  “Text-A-Gift” events will become a mainstay in annual giving plans. I first wrote about mobile phone micro-donation campaigns this summer.  Providing people the option to text $5 or $10 gifts (for which they are billed by their mobile carrier), at social, entertainment, and sporting events will become more extensive in the next decade.  Even small non-profit organizations will utilize this merging of technology and philanthropy as cost and implementation barriers will no longer be in play.

And while I remain unconvinced that these efforts are the annual elixir for all that ails non-profit fundraisers, I am convinced that these efforts will become commonplace.  This conviction stems primarily from the fact that mobile phones will become fully integrated into our daily existence.  Which leads to my third prediction. . .

2020 Philanthropy Prediction 3:  The Phonathon will increase in importance and difficulty.  We all know about the ability of the Phonathon to increase the donor base and increase giving from current donors.  These two goals will grow in importance over the next decade.  Development budgets will continue to grow tighter and the importance of attracting more annual donors (i.e., non-major donors) will necessitate cost-effective, broad-based strategies.

But, if you’ve been around a phonathon in recent years you also recognize their primary drawback:   People are using their home phones less and less.  This issue will only become aggravated during the next decade.  Today, over 20% of all households are landline-free and opt to use only mobile phones.  That number will balloon this decade.  By 2020, the vast majority of the country (and the bulk of the world) will be living an “Always Connected” lifestyle.

And the number of tasks our “phones” will allow us to complete with mobility will be stunning – as one forward-thinking article states, mobile phones will become our wallets and keys.  Because of such versatility, “mobile phones” will be a misnomer as the devices will be more powerful than today’s laptop.    So, if you don’t have a strategy to secure mobile phone numbers from your donors and prospects, I encourage you to implement one – and soon.  By 2020 they will be the primary method of text and voice communication and information exchange.

Here, then, are three philanthropy predictions for the next decade.  I predict these next 10 years will be filled with incredible and transformational opportunities.  You’ll see more of those in my next post. . .




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