As technological, social, and economic forces continue to evolve at the global level, philanthropy and nonprofit organizations continue to play an important role in creating sustainable and equitable communities at the local level. Today’s philanthropy is driven by varying needs across populations and geographies, as well as increasingly complex societal problems.

In the prior edition of The Philanthropy Outlook, we detailed how changing U.S. demographics will affect philanthropy in the future. Specifically, we noted that younger generations consider philanthropy to be an investment and that their giving is an extension of their own personal mission. We further discussed how shifts in the economic and political environments have differentially affected U.S. household finances and have produced questions about policy implications for philanthropy. Finally, we discussed how technological innovations have expanded the donor-nonprofit relationship by raising nonprofit transparency and providing the means for real-time engagement with stakeholders. We concluded that these changes provide both challenges and opportunities for nonprofits in terms of developing fundraising programs and strengthening overall revenue.

We continue to believe that these noted changes are opportunities for nonprofit leaders to think creatively about revenue generation in the years to come. Innovation will be critical as competition for philanthropic resources heightens and the philanthropic relationship becomes more donor-focused, whether that relationship is with a corporation, foundation, other nonprofit, or an individual.7 While all sources of contributions are important to the philanthropic sector, more than 7 in every 10 philanthropic dollars that the sector receives is contributed by individuals/households­; this donor type continues to hold real power in the donor-nonprofit relationship.8

Today’s donors want more control over their giving and to understand the impact they are making philanthropically. They want to be a partner, and the organizations to which they give must seek to leverage their philanthropic gifts through whatever means necessary, such as through collaboration with other organizations. Today’s donors also demand that nonprofits are trustworthy, transparent, and accountable and that they communicate as much.9

While reading the results of The Philanthropy Outlook 2017 & 2018, keep these elements in mind as you reflect and then project on what you can do within your own fundraising program.