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


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