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


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