External Trends Impacting the NFP Sector in 2017

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The year 2017 has begun in an environment of perplexed global sentiment. From Brexit to the election of President Trump, the last 9 months have been far from a smooth ride on the world stage, showing a trend towards growing isolationism and increasing uncertainty.

At the national level, for most advanced economies, this uncertainty has bred an increase in nationalism, and a move away from globalisation. In Australia, our response – in part fuelled by our strong work ethic and historic undercurrent – makes us all just want to ‘get on with it’ and get the job done.

For the not for profit sector, this means working hard at strategic initiatives, managing external risk, and taking bold initiatives to engage donors. Our conversations with the NFP sector at this time of year often involves developing strategic brand tracking to measure public engagement, or testing specific brand assets to develop powerful advertising campaigns.

Yet, before delving into the tools of marketing and communications, it is critical that NFPs grasp the trends and undercurrents taking place in the external environment, particularly those that impact donor giving. Here are three trends we feel are critical for the NFP sector to grapple with in 2017:

1. Charity saturation and the need for brand differentiation

According to JBWere’s Cause Report (2016), Australia has 56,894 NFP organisation, one NFP for every 422 individuals. The number of not for profit organisations has doubled every 20 years over the last 60 years – and despite cancelling and closure of some charities by the ACNC, there are still around 10 new charities established every business day.

2. Overall decline in public giving necessitating new fundraising initiatives

Charitable giving has been lower in Australia in 2016 than in years prior. The NAB Charitable Giving Index indicates that national giving is down, by a decrease of 0.3% growth in the 12 months leading up to Aug 2016. This compares to 5.1% growth a year earlier. While there has been resilience in the Australian economy during this time, consumers are more cautious than before, reflected by these figures.

3. Younger generations giving less and seeking experiential engagement

60% of Australian donors agree that charities will face a more difficult future as younger generations don’t seem to volunteer in an ongoing way or give as much as the generations before them (McCrindle Australian Communities Trends Report, 2016). NAB data shows that those aged 15 to 24 give just $135 on average, annually, to charities, compared to those over 65 who give $452 on average.


A number of these trends are explained by a rise in the cost of living across Australia. Take Sydney housing as a case example of the growing cost of living pressures. In 1975, Sydney house prices were just 5x average annual earnings. By 1995 they had risen to 6x average annual earnings, but today – when taking the average annual salary of $80,000 per year and the median house price of well over $1 million – the average house price is 13x the cost of an average annual full-time salary.

Australian donors are finding it more difficult to give, and to give regularly. As the traditional, dependable, regular donor shrinks as a proportion of all donors, new types of donors are emerging –brand responders and opportunity givers.


Brand responders and opportunity givers donate sporadically, in an ad-hoc way. These types of donors are still more likely to give to a single charity or cause than to multiple causes, and have a strong preference for a particularly cause or charity.

Through speaking with more than a dozen NFP experts, 54 donors face to face, and surveying 1,500 Australians, we have identified four key next steps for the charitable sector to take into account in 2017:

1. Develop Multi-Tiered Levels of Engagement

Donors want to be involved with charities, but on their own terms. Rather than fixed contracts, they desire flexible giving and varied involvement. The demand for personalisation is growing as donors expect charity engagement suited to their age and life stage.

2. Build Communities for Social Impact

Australian donors desire to be part of a community of activists that bring about social change. They want to be involved in something bigger than themselves, knowing that together they can make a difference. This is not just ‘clicktivism’, which is seen merely as a form of virtue signalling through web-based activist organisations. Globally, networks like Avaaz.org and Change.org have created opportunities for real-life engagement of social issues, facilitated first through online platforms.

3. Communicate Results in Real-Time

Donors want real-time results and transparent reporting of admin costs. Platforms such as GiveDirectly.org now enable donors to give directly to an individual living in extreme poverty via mobile giving. KIVA, a lending platform facilitating crowd-sourced micro loans across the globe, displays the giving of loans in real-time via an interactive world map. When donors have this type of visibility, trust and engagement follow.

4. Create Fun and Engaging Experiences

The donor of the future is looking for participation and memories created through experiences. Nearly half (46%) of 18-29 year-old Australian donors have volunteered for a charity (compared to 31% of 30+ donors), and they are looking to do so in new, fresh ways. This is not just contained to events and a physical presence at sporting events or music festivals. Many young donors (1 in 4 of those aged 18-29, compared to just 11% of 30+ year-old donors) prefer the creative challenge of conducting their own fundraising events, providing them with the opportunity to harness their unique gifts and talents for a great cause.

-Eliane Miles


For more information on Australian Donors, see the Australian Communities Trends Report Infographic.

Connect with us if you would like more information on environmental scanning for strategic forecasting.


Eliane Miles is a social researcher, trends analyst and Director of Research at the internationally recognised McCrindle. As a data analyst she understands the power of big data to inform strategic direction. Managing research across multiple sectors and locations, she is well positioned to understand the mega trends transforming the workplace, household and consumer landscapes. Her expertise is in telling the story embedded in the data and communicating the insights in visual and practical ways. Download Eliane's professional speaking pack here.

To inquire about Eliane presenting at your next event, please feel free to get in touch.

Welcome to our blog...

We have a passion for research that tells a story, that can be presented visually, that brings about change and improves organisations. And we hope these resources help you know the times.

Our Social Media Sites

Facebook | McCrindle Research Social Media YouTube | McCrindle Research Social Media Twitter | McCrindle Research Social Media Flickr | McCrindle Research Social Media Pinterest | McCrindle Research Social Media Google Plus | McCrindle Research Social Media LinkedIn | McCrindle Research Social Media Mark McCrindle Slideshare

Last 150 Articles


infographic food rising house prices royal family increasing densification Australia Day 2017 Adelaide apartment education housing affordability product Deaths households New Zealand overcast forecast authenticity menai presentations long weekend IT Specialists insights interactive Royals deloitte housing growth rise of local teaching australia typical australian Aussie emerging trends GPO royal influence housing trends motivate state youth unemployment environment goal online shopping baby boomers 24 million 40 million cancelling plans hills shire mobile mccrindle tea household public holiday home owner James Ward workplace dream future of work millenials 1980 participants Wellington collaboration neutral bay real Queensland REIV Conference PSI teacher wedding new york times trends analyst keynote speaker cash identity Melbourne crows nest market research transport sydneysider purpose financial independence suburb housing social researcher Sydney sector wide study parenting results population map baby name generations social commentator house price rise happiness sydney hills census 2016 SA area thrive low density faith focus group future divorce rate Australian Dream local community #censusfail monarchy professional speaker data socialites staff not for profit social analysis mateship ABS hopes global generations equip events 2017 tea investment demographics The ABC of XYZ NT communicate know the times Channel 7 digital marriage report Queensland: QLD shopper's pick work-life CBD cost of living Kiwi NEETs cars sydneycity future of shopping Population Clock careers Love aged care year 7 Tuesday Trend ethnography cultural diversity Australian communities Geoff Brailey not-for-profit sydney event NBRS Architecture investing families national crime rates going out society trends social researchers jobs australian communities trends report population village JOMO media commentary Territory data visualisation Gen X newspaper mother's day REIV National Conference cooking unaffordable cost recap middle class wage moderators guide townhouses future proof tattoos generational trends Australian schools skills meetings gen alpha survey design Christmas presents change sector wide brisbane New South Wales schools royal hobart teach Western Australia learner car dare to dream Christmas lunch census results facts innovative fears domestic royal baby qualitative research community engagement innovation 23 million eliane training Skilling 2013 SMART culture consumer forecasting SMSF media visual Kirsten Brewer baby name trends narcissism generation Z conferences social trends professional services summer 1994 suburbs mccrindle Christchurch Bathburst train publication crime young people conference leadership workshop TDE capital city hello fresh Vocational education unemployment gen z in the media statistics cloudy days cancel plans debt faux-ciliser program aussie culture CPI names 1968 easter energy social shifts australian social research lifestyle "know the times" sun millennials teleworking volunteers office space breakfast ageing population logan focus groups research services Financial Planning Association of Australia entertainment Do It Yourself jobs of the future gender aged care puzzle relevant university degree eliane miles darwin presentation snapshot government religion ease of travel google for education public speaking optimistic generation alpha ageing micro learning styles business performance the hills student marketing average sydneysider NSW culturally diverse list award buildings men emerging generations rich Australian Home Australian Families World Water Day Australians census Merry Christmas supply and demand sydneysiders 2020 Engineering Manager Australian Communities Trends clothing water social lives grave decision affordable click earn rule keeper millionth sustainable news high school mccrindle research home bus video impact Caregiver analysis Australian Census politics commute christianity tableau nfp ashley fell conference presentation Assistant Store Manager Netflix brand experience selfie property market organisations suburban living trades research pack New Zeland winter Aussies the average aussie Australian Trends father's day spirituality city VIC group career survey business renting young australians learn rain litter brands budget professional development urban living index social issues January 26th christmas the changing face of media release salary micro apartments shopping centre women pharmacy educated belief google national wealth global financial crisis mover and shaker travelling employers priorities Australian Population work earnings divorce Northern beaches Event local language organisational culture 24,000,000 technology social life finance apartments teachers mortgage trend tuesday high density apartments mentor Sydney keynote speaker experience wealth and income insight story Gen Y future of education education future report Crime Rates in depth interviews cold youth world urban living award winner social commentary pharmacies marriages population milestone resource owning a home poker master financial fears English bondi gold coast cancelling event research report daily telegraph HSC public speaker alpha forum global Tasmania victoria internships educhat environmental scanning Hornsby Shire Council graphs financial visualisation university tips etiquette faux-cilising Word Up stats school satisfaction Northern Beaches Christian School personalities medicine leadership curiosity retirement manly follow toys seasons urban dessert future proofing financial dreams Wagga Wagga local communities high density poor marrickville Sydney Hills Business Chamber Financial Planning Week twentyseventeen TAS ashley mckenzie McCrindle Speakers friendship Andrew Duffin Res Vis Generation X internship goals quote travel anzac Australian demographics event faux-cilise Northern Beaches Births parents ferry growth case study weather income census fail plans greatness omnibus post rationalism customer demographer house outsourcing ipswich wealth distribution school leader 2012 sports Charlotte cica researcher high density living Work place students property group session collaborative Scouts engage kate middleton vegetarian keynote demographic wages paying to work perth proactive 2015 VET church commuters research data EFF challenge 2016 census results prince george wolloomooloo communications annual income social enquiry Australia Day life brand online investor baby names australia report NBRS optus Duchess of Cambridge social impact Valentine’s Day lalor park shbc urban taskforce Education Future Forum renter of the future optus my business awards personal growth holiday South Australia tuesday megatrends trends of 2017 the australian dream baby names changing face of sydney entrepreneurs of today FPA entrepreneurial bureau home ownership wealth and income distribution stay home sunny days balance data analyst community education sector sector children Research Executive The Daily Edition research visualisation learning infographic wall Northern Territory conference speaker Wodonga demography media activity property price workplace culture residents 2014 VET sector mccrindle in the media networking February 16 sydney speaker states spend speakers Canberra pyrmont ACF repayments baby names report baby boom communities sentiments schools students staying in princess charlotte woolworths Generation Y define new office 2016 criminal celebration Christmas season vegemite moreton bay Real Estate Institute of Victoria Real Estate couple 2016 census thought leadership education research cartodb engagement population growth small business study school students year 12 rental stress financial future ACT trends of 2016 the hills shire sunburnt country potts point blaxland Mark McCrindle fresh baby offenders hornsby world youth day future-proof safe acf15 winter blues debate DESTEL society australians staying home more non profit healthy future employment office opening capital cities charity living intern ACF 2016 demographic transformations easy rider social change baby name predictions sydney metro family national private wealth business index resilience SRE social work mates Macquarie University weekly earnings responsive huffington post office workshop grandparents Social Trend relational shopping house price australian communities forum norwest builders holidays economy trends emerging technologies entrepreneur WA Tuesday Trends ultimo Hills Shire Council internet mythbusting professional socialising christian ideas communication Australian Bureau of Statistics slideshare tv friends daily commute futurist FOMO growing population trend rent mythbusters average Australian research Myth housing market System's Architect economic tertiary education community event wealth panel storytelling workforce coffee Financial Planning Association meals generation DIY house prices earning education future social media average aussie mining boom shifts Channel Seven demographic trends contiki 1975 10 years child care waverton land of the middle class social research affordability wellbeing consumerism dreaming geomapping