Trends in Philanthropy: Predicting the Future of Nonprofit Fundraising


What is the future of nonprofit fundraising in the next 10 years? How will current philanthropy trends be manifested? These are the questions that Gayle Roberts asks in this month’s Carnival of Giving roundup.

I am really looking forward to the responses of my fellow nonprofit professionals. I suspect that they will speak to the way in which nonprofits will function in the coming years as fundraising organizations, so I have decided to go a different route by examining the field of nonprofit organizations as a whole.


1. Lowered barriers to technological access, especially in computer hardware and web media, will attract more smaller foundations to the field. Advancing computer technologies and cheaper prices on hardware and software will facilitate the entry of new organizations into the field of fundraising, particularly in developing countries.

2. Increased need for monitoring and transparency will necessitate the formation of umbrella organizations. With the increased number of grassroots organizations, especially in the international arena, umbrella organizations will be formed to authenticate the practices and ensure the credibility of foundations.

3. There will be stricter and more universal measures for organizational monitoring and transparency. Authoritative umbrella organizations will rate charities’ effectiveness and succes with stricter and more standardized measures for benchmarking, reporting, and how funds are used. All organizations with credibility will be expected to register with an umbrella organization for monitoring purposes.

4. Umbrella organizations will act as giving agents by helping donors pool resources and make philanthropic decisions. Because all professional organizations will be registered and authenticated, donors will have greater options for giving and be able to choose from menus of projects based on foundations’ causes, relationships, histories, and efficiency ratings.

5. Average citizens will be able to direct tax dollars to social services in lieu of direct government support (US centric). Governments will decrease direct support for social services, but will lower the barriers to philanthropic giving to help foundations earn money. Consider the wealth of fundraising dollars that went to hurricane relief in 2006 thanks to the Katrina Emergency Tax Relief Act. Philanthropic advisors will be employed by governments to facilitate the direction of donor dollars into organizations that serve the public good.

6. The leadership deficit will lead to a reorganization of the field in which power is consolidated into the hands of professional philanthropic advisors. There will be fewer nonprofit executives, but more nonprofit employees as the number of grassroots fundraising organizations grows. Philanthropic advisors will lead the field and act as the go betweens of donors, donor advised funds, and foundations.

7. Philanthropic advisors and giving consultants will play a prominent role to help facilitate the giving process. Professional fundraising consultants will work on behalf of donors and donor funds to help make giving decisions. The consultants will be high profile, highly paid, and highly sought after.

8. Professionalism in the field will be enhanced by a heightened need for fundraising authorities. With the increased need to have credible, recognized, third party experts in the field, professional fundraisers will earn degrees, certificates, and in some cases be licensed to practice.

9. Academic institutions will partner with nonprofits to create relevant and meaningful development degrees. Colleges and universities will establish competitive degree and certification programs for development professionals, fast tracking participants into leadership positions.

10. Social networking and web technologies will be leveraged in ways we have yet to imagine. Tools that we cannot yet conceptualize will become the norm for nonprofit fundraising. Consider that fact that our predictions soothsay trends 10 years from now while only 10 years ago the internet was just entering standard usage. We are on the shoreline of a vast sea of media experience with social networking tools, videocasting, and wikis acting as our dinghies into the beyond.

Bonus Predictions

  • We will see an unprecedented commercialization of knowledge, especially in the areas of science and technology, with mega donors (including donor funds) given naming opportunities for pharmaceuticals, astronomical bodies, and genes to support research and development
  • The greatest threat to our daily lives will be online viral pirating, which will threaten our networks on all levels
  • There will be a huge educational push toward the disciplines of mathematics and science with core groups of students being given elite, government and corporate sponsored training
  • Identifying, researching, and developing alternative sources of energy will be one of the primary focuses of the upcoming years and will significantly affect the leaders we elect, having far reaching geopolitical implications worldwide
  • There will be a tremendous push for environmental stewardship by scientists, academics, and eventually politicians, who will look to nonprofits for practical implementation of policies and leadership

8 Responses to Trends in Philanthropy: Predicting the Future of Nonprofit Fundraising

  1. Maya, really appreciate you putting so much thought and effort into your submission for the Giving Carnival. Speaks highly of your role helping realize these goals over the coming years. Will post the entire Carnival up on my blog by the end of the week.

  2. thenewjew says:

    Sounds great, Gayle. Thanks for your comment. I’m really looking forward in learning other people’s thoughts, including your own.


  3. Maya, I enjoyed reading your vrey compitent post! I appreciate your points numbered five, nine, and ten as they are ‘futuristic’ yet you demonstrated how we’re heading in those directions. Interesting. I’m curious if number 5 will occur if we have a Democrat in the White House for two terms. Hopefully, we’ll see! Number 9 is already happening, for instance Seattle University’s Masters in Non Profit Management . Speaking to your tenth point, yes, ten years isn’t that far off, timewise, yet it will be a lifetime in technological terms. I wrote a post stating that basic, old fashioned, face to face networking still needs to happen more among grant writers, specifically. The post is at:

    Great blog! I’ll be back! Shana Tova!

  4. thenewjew says:

    Hi Arlene, thanks for your comment. I think your blog is a nice model to others in the field in the way it addresses the niche of the nonprofit market while still covering a broad spectrum of related issues.

    Do you have experience with the program in Seattle you posted? I goal for a post in the future is to create a comprehensive listing of non-profit degree and certification programs that are out there– #9 is meant to be a little nudge for me to start working on that more thoroughly. Are there any other good ones that you know about either by word of mouth or personal experience that you’ve heard good things about? I’m interested to hear your thoughts.

    I think face to face networking will always be the baseline of development work. It’s personal connections we are after. I wrote about a perspective on that idea in this entry “Philanthropy’s Emotional Connection: 3 Ways to Harness the Power of Donor Emotions” – And definitely hope to come back to it in the future.

    Great to have you hear and thanks for your nice words. Consider me a reader.


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