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What unites us: Global trends in philanthropy

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Andrew Mosawi

Andrew Mosawi

Andrew Mosawi

[Publisher’s note: This article was provided by Blackbaud, a maker of fundraising software. Blackbaud is a PJ business partner.]

With 2010 now a memory and 2011 just beginning, it is a natural time of reflection.

Several major international catastrophes, and the tail end of the worst recession in most of our lifetimes, made 2010 a challenging year to say the least.

As usual, the nonprofit sector faced these challenges head on and with optimism.

In fact, the State of the Nonprofit Industry Survey, a survey of over 3,000 nonprofit professionals in over 10 countries, reported that every country has the belief that fundraising performance will increase year-over-year.

This is a testament to the resilience and optimism of our profession.

Over the last five years, the same survey has surfaced a significant volume of data about fundraising in each country. At the same time it has also identified a few key trends across our sector globally.

The first trend is that it has become clear that fundraising is emerging as a widely recognized profession around the world.

Statistically, the survey results show that every country surveyed expected there to be an increased investment in fundraising staff in 2011, with India showing the highest results.

Circumstantially, we can see this trend in the growing community and activity of fundraising professionals around the world.

The Japan Fundraising Association’s first-ever conference was held in Tokyo in February with over 400 attendees.

The Toronto Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals held a conference that broke 1000 attendees for the first time in five years, and the International Fundraising Congress conference celebrated its anniversary in the same little town in the Netherlands where it has held the event for 30 years.

The second trend is that return on investment and organizational effectiveness are more important than ever.

Every country surveyed responded that they have seen an increase in the volume of donors wanting to know how their money is being spent — 76 percent of organizations in France and 67 percent of organizations in Italy responded that way.

The third trend is that new fundraising and communication channels, though growing, are not replacing traditional channels.

While this won’t come as a surprise to most readers, what is interesting is what the implication of this trend is, which is a focus on multi-channel fundraising and how it is becoming increasingly important.

Linked closely to this multi-channel theme is the final trend: There is a new focus on the total supporter “journey” as opposed to traditional donor management.

Donor pools are changing, and as a result, so is the pyramid. Social media (a phrase in evolution itself) has changed the way we define a supporter and has increased our ability to attract new ones.

Supporters are touching, engaging, and interacting with our organizations in a number of ways, sadly, most of the time without us knowing about it.

However, more and more organizations around the world are seeing this low-hanging-fruit of fundraising as an opportunity to focus on a way to manage supporters accordingly.

As humans, we often are guilty of focusing on the differences between us, and that is especially true internationally.

The encouraging thing that we have learned from this survey (and through conversations with nonprofits around the world) is that we are remarkably similar.

Organizations around the world face the same challenges, see the same opportunities, and most importantly, all share the trait of being the most positive and optimistic sector on earth.


 Andrew Mosawi is Blackbaud’s vice president of international business.

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