Thursday, January 31, 2013

Top 3 Charity Trends in 2013

Here are the top three trends to watch for in the charitable world in 2013.

1. Fundraising will see a renewed focus on major gifts and individual donations in 2013.

The last few years have seen (and even demanded that) organizations seek new and innovative funding models.  The phrase "revenue diversification" has become overused as charities have sought more corporate funding, initiated social enterprise and enhanced their on-line campaigns, sometimes all at the same time. But the fact remains that the majority of charities still raise the majority of their funds through individual gifts, including major gifts.  2013 started off with a great example: the biggest-ever private gift for cancer research in Canadian history. My prediction is that we'll see a "return to basics" as charities prune back some the less successful initiatives of the last few years.

2. Fundraising will see significant innovation in terms of leveraging technology and on-line giving in 2013.

I remember the first time I received an e-mail from a friend that had a link to an individualized site where I could donate to support them in climbing the CN Tower. At the time it seems quite remarkable... But that was many years ago. My own Movember campaign raised a bit less this year than last, and others I know had the same experience. Yet the web and on-line giving is nothing if not flexible and innovative. My first prediction notwithstanding, I believe that we'll see memorable and innovative new ways to leverage technology in support of philanthropic efforts in 2013.

3. There will be even more new faces leading charities in 2013.

Partly due to demographics, partly due to the ever-increasing challenges facing charities, and partly due to new and more complex expectations of leaders of charities (ONCA, CNCA, AODA, etc.), I have the sense that new leadership will be a theme this year. This isn't a new trend, just one that I believe will accelerate, and a quick review of the Charity Village and LinkedIn job postings would seem to support this belief. My prediction is that we'll see even more postings and a number of long-standing roles change in 2013.

I’ll keep you updated on examples and stories behind these trends all year, and check back in 12 months to let you know how accurate I was.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Top 3 Charity Trends in 2012 Reviewed

This time last year I predicted the Top 3 Charity Trends in 2012, and it's time to see how I fared.

1. My first prediction was that many small and medium sized charities would disappear in 2012.

Well, sadly I was was right, but I also predicted that others would use this "crunch" to innovate and reinvent themselves, and it turns out that was true too. For example, Touchstone Youth Centre closed its doors in November due to financial challenges. After over 20 years and providing outreach and shelter for thousands of young people, they were gone.  However, the Learning Disabilities Association of Canada (LDAC) took a different tack, and became a national association and plans to fulfill its mandate via a web-based presence. A final example is that of the Ontario Mental Health Foundation. They're still around, but due to a decrease in provincial funding and their own reduced return on investments, they have temporarily suspended a number of research fellowships. Net result? Fewer charities, reduced impact, but less spending. Without any way of assessing impact and value and which charity closes and which survives beforehand, there's no way of knowing whether the "right" charities closed or not. Or whether the right programs / initiatives died on the vine or not either.

2. My second prediction was that big charities would get bigger in 2012.

Many larger organizations celebrated their best year ever in 2012 in terms of revenue. However, in this new Darwinian world of charitable survival it's NOT really about who is most fit (e.g. who has the most impact and who is best equipped to deliver on their Mission) but rather who has the deepest pockets, the best fundraising campaigns, and the best top-of-mind awareness. So in the case of big charities the obverse from the small charities that closed is true: of those that grew, who really had the best impact and delivered the best value per donated dollar?

3. My final prediction for 2012 was that charities would increasingly think and in some ways act more like for-profit businesses.

This is a tougher result to review. Certainly I heard a lot at AFP Congress and other events about Social Entrepreneurs and Social Enterprises, but maybe I missed the breakthroughs we all keep expecting.  MaRS and others talked about Social Impact Bonds, but again even with Governments starting to get involved my sense is only modest change has occurred.  I can vouch for charities becoming far more savvy about their back-of-house operations, looking to squeeze already lean budgets to find a few more dollars. For example, the number of calls I get about how charities can partner to save money on rent (hubs, co-locations, etc.) has gone up dramatically. And the number of organizations that are looking to buy their own office and program spaces and grown as well.

Stay tuned for the 2013 predictions shortly!