7 Predictions for 2017

Posted on 01/07/2017 - by Dan Allenby

In ancient Roman mythology, Janus is the god of beginnings and endings. In statues and paintings, he is often depicted as having two faces. One face looks to the past and the other looks to the future. It’s for this reason that many believe that the month of January is named for Janus, since it’s both a time to reflect on months past and a time to prepare for new things to come.

For educational institutions and their annual giving programs, the first month of the calendar year is indeed an important time. Many use it as a mid-point review for their fundraising/fiscal years and an opportunity to recalibrate a game plan for the “second half.” January is also a good time to step outside of your own program, look at the big picture, and get a sense of what lies ahead for the industry as a whole.

Here are 7 “annual giving predictions” for 2017 that will help you think about what lies ahead and help put your own goals and strategies into perspective:

  1. The decline in alumni participation, which has persisted year-over-year for more than two decades, will continue. Annual Giving programs will be under pressure to buck the trend and to increase the number of alumni donors to give back each year, while also generating important unrestricted and current use annual fund support.
  2. Digital marketing will be an increasingly important skill for successful annual giving programs, which will need to become more sophisticated in their use of email, video, and social media to enhance online donor experiences if they are to compete with the 1.5 million other charities.
  3. Frontline fundraising will play a smaller role in the success of annual giving efforts. Instead of relying on one-to-one outreach, staff will turn to one-to-many outreach strategies, peer-to-peer engagement, and major gift partnerships to secure annual fund leadership gifts and fuel revenue growth.
  4. Data analytics and predictive modeling will become an essential tool for successful annual giving programs. The ability to track interests by monitoring the online behaviors of prospects (e.g., Facebook likes, clicks on links) will lead to better targeting and higher giving rates.
  5. Annual Fund stewardship and retention strategies will be reshaped by loyalty clubs and societies. More programs will offer member benefits to incentivize and reward regular giving at all levels. This will be particularly appealing to younger prospects and those of modest means.
  6. More advancement professionals will see annual giving as a long-term career rather than a stepping stone to a career in major gifts. This will begin to reduce the high levels of staff turnover that exist in many annual giving shops.
  7. Annual Giving will continue to evolve as a specialty and an area of expertise within the field of advancement. This will increase expectations for quality training for annual giving professionals and will result in a greater demand for annual fund leadership at competitive institutions.

Want to learn more? CLICK HERE for AGN’s webinar on Developing an Annual Fund Plan.