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


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