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


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