Report: Transparency, Trends Creating Big Shifts in Donor Strategies

A new report from Fidelity Charitable finds that donors are closely watching modern philanthropic trends and putting their trust behind more transparent organizations. But older generations are less influenced by these trends.

When it comes to financially backing a cause, potential donors aren’t focused just on the mission—they want to see results.

That’s a key point highlighted in a new report from Fidelity Charitable, which notes that 41 percent of donors who responded to the survey specifically said they’d changed their giving because they were more aware of nonprofit effectiveness. Another 27 percent said they’d changed their giving approach because of technological advances that provided helpful data for decision-making.

But those missions still matter, of course. The more than 3,200 respondents to The Future of Philanthropy survey said that issues of health and hunger were important to them.

However, as the public gains more understanding of the nonprofit space, they aren’t necessarily limiting their thought process to giving—and are willing to consider which types of organizations are the best options for tackling different kinds of issues.

“Donors today view nonprofit organizations as the most likely to develop solutions and create the change required to solve problems, but not always in isolation,” the report states in one section. “Donors see public-private partnerships as almost equally likely to create solutions as nonprofits.”

Generational Concerns

Perhaps one of the notable points highlighted by the report involves the differing nature of how millennials gave compared with baby boomers.

Compared with boomers, millennials were more willing to consider modern technological advances and alternative giving techniques in their giving strategies. In fact, 43 percent of millennial respondents were influenced by three or more major philanthropic trends, compared with 23 percent of boomers who said the same.

On the other hand, baby boomers made up a much larger portion of the overall giving pie—43 percent versus 11 percent—and 72 percent of boomers said they plan their giving. In comparison, more than half of millennial respondents said their giving was more spontaneous in nature.

But the two groups ultimately share similar concerns when making donations—with health and hunger near the top of the list.

Overall, though, the study suggests that even if the way we think of giving is changing, the public’s approach to that giving will remain strong in the years to come.

“While the evolution in donor perceptions described in this report shows views of giving are shifting, we should not be concerned about philanthropy’s future,” the report concludes. “Giving is changing, but its definition is broadening. These changes will strengthen philanthropy’s impact, making giving more relevant and universal than ever before.”

The full study is available for reading on the Fidelity Charitable website [PDF].

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a senior editor for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. MORE

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