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


Vocational education trends volunteering Australian schools USA Lower Hunter city vegemite research report SRE sydneysider JOMO Bathburst social shifts weather post rationalism 2009 happy holidays investing social researchers Australians South Australia entrepreneurs of today 2020 twentyseventeen McCridle social trends NT surnames faith energy sun collaboration sydney metro employers personal growth snapshot 1994 GPO online wealth and income distribution innovation cooking events global anzac dare to dream TEDx infographic engage culture brand experience English 10 years rule keeper customer forecasting rent change The Daily Edition the hills shire qualitative research report authenticity google personalities year 7 public speaker Assistant Store Manager alpha Sydney Lifestyle Study affordability teach local community owning a home gig economy Willowdale families poker master housing growth communications office space 2013 professional services contiki mobile giving housing affordability thought leadership salary educhat emerging generations ACF2017 Royals gen z Tuesday Trends define india Australian demographics tips teachers community event non profit TED talk paying to work suburban living equip wealth distribution religion australian real estate financial planning financial dreams Lower Hunter Region Christmas day weather Australian communities Jura Australia Queensland Sydney Hills Business Chamber impact housing trends learning styles demographic trends Births Christmas presents ACF household research services not-for-profit unemployment government Andrew Duffin product social issues travel visual forum Australia Day CBD demographic transformations home owner teleworking house price rise mateship households community cold Black Friday in Australia visualisation cancelling event home balance Christmas Stats Myth trend sydneysiders eliane miles the average aussie the australian dream office opening parents friendship younger generations media commentary PSI urban taskforce money monarchy mover and shaker baby name trends ease of travel McCrindle Speakers seasons case study Canberra statistics proactive Australian Home property trends of 2016 criminal repayments women panel collaborative etiquette professional screenagers investor skills faux-cilising interactive VET sector moreton bay easter crows nest retirement middle class Business analysis australians staying home more baby name predictions capital city Duchess of Cambridge generations hopes university global generation urban living digital urban development Aussie global generations father's day screenage research pack Macquarie University US focus group Cobbitty-Leppington supply and demand domestic 1968 keynote speaker charities affordable entertainment survey travelling Christmas day Gen Y divorce rate national wealth capital cities names youth unemployment consumer media activity organisational culture suburb brands increasing densification pyrmont church work from home seasons greetings HR woolworths Channel 7 socialites property market geomapping HSC Hornsby Shire Council rain futurist norwest curiosity Queensland: QLD financial future sunny days educated work mates Population Clock house staff area event 40 million graphs australian community trends report sports award winner future proof schools Understanding and Engaging with Generation Z communicate do people still change their surname after marriage? Christchurch fresh NFP event internet average Australian social impact renting census data publication DIY tea healthy future school public speaking trends of 2017 career fears average aussie Maxim Accounting emerging technologies aged care puzzle divorce optus my business awards students millionth IT Specialists easy rider crime speajer VIC presentations education future economic australian communities trends report business index grandparents demographer trends analyst education future report spirituality Love marriages mccrindle tea environment charity millennials Northern Territory school students shifts keynote prince george happiness 1995 royal Financial Planning Association of Australia financial independence ABS high density earn maiden James Ward Real Estate Territory village forecast McCrindle Speaker couple faux-cilise politics mccrindle in the media Mark McCrindle in the media dream gold coast social change Australian Population data visualisation state annual income global generaion local 24 million networking sector wide mccrinlde award sustainable FOMO year 12 new office wolloomooloo men Western Australia WA workplace debate outsourcing Kiwi the lucky country property development buildings social analyst bondi changing face of sydney rising house prices royal baby research data resilience Gen Z Expert business cultural diversity marketing live the dream 1980 business performance lalor park home ownership social life "know the times" analysis offenders urban living index internships acf15 social commentary waverton young australians shopping cancel plans social commentator future teacher Mark McCrindle click toys social media rich generation Z workshop tuesday Australian Trends follow Generation X investment water intern christian renter of the future communities mythbusting innovative emerging trends cash menai future proofing generation high school cost study school satisfaction newspaper typical australian baby boom New Zeland global retail Do It Yourself logan jobs Res Vis NBRS litter digital economy Merry Christmas poor apartment work wealth not for profit research growth participants marriage low density dreaming real work-life national private wealth commute ultimo Valentine’s Day staying in engagement millenials media release food motivate Research Executive optus Hunter Valley in the media researcher future of education ashley mckenzie wealth and income SA New South Wales demographic safe society trends optimistic kate middleton national crime rates experience shopping centre economy culturally diverse Mount Annan-Currant Hill presentation celebration aged care shbc china weekly earnings financial who is generation z tertiary education 2012 identity Black Friday Sales public holiday dreams townhouses micro apartments wages list surname sydney speaker ACF 2016 coffee lovers ethnography hobart January 26th leadership suburbs Melbourne Australian Communities Trends meetings leadership workshop indonesia victoria Black Friday 2016 census results quote online shopping clothing bus census McCrindle Keynote Speakers gig ageing builders Australia Day 2017 Geoff Brailey entrepreneur belief holiday NBRS Architecture Hills Shire Council pharmacies grave decision wellbeing gender residents volunteers Crime Rates Australian community trends social analysis ashley fell language stay home earning Word Up TEDx Speaker training cartodb hills commuting aussie culture population professional speaker house price new york times finance mccrindle research food insecurity spend daily commute EFF baby entrepreneurial ideas The ABC of XYZ careers ipswich purpose Australian Census slideshare ACF17 donate blaxland Wagga Wagga Jura Coffee Tuesday Trend speaker employmee deloitte TAS SMSF coffee world Scouts Performance Sentiment Index royal family World Water Day sector wide study workforce medicine holidays sunburnt country professional development Gen X tableau society Australian Bureau of Statistics Financial Planning Association perth world youth day hills shire Elderslie-Harrington park living 1975 ACT education research university degree sydneycity moderators guide mccrindle cica sydney market budget System's Architect infographics faux-ciliser 2016 youth demography car public transport unaffordable storytelling social research eliane potts point baby names meals data analyst states gen alpha dessert market research socialising census results chairty stats life organisations VET donation Sydney’s south west social enquiry data communication care support friends Northern beaches Event Christmas research future of work Australia street schools students winter relational February 16 house prices learn responsive wealth inequality conference apartments NSW huffington post population map relevant Northern Beaches New Zealand REIV National Conference nfp long weekend global financial crisis social FPA sydney event christmas 2017 mother's day resource baby names australia report tv mythbusters Tasmania research on coffee growth of sydney #censusfail education ferry insight social lives brisbane not for profit pharmacy workplace culture neutral bay australia transport Wodonga the great screenage cost of living learning Social Trend Australian Dream ACT Report young people teaching sydney property market hunger Channel Seven Research Director thrive wedding urban Wellington cancelling plans earnings census 2016 technology Sydney population population growth REIV Conference baby names report darwin goals research visualisation Sydney overcast leader housing summer leadersip property price sentiments social researcher education sector population milestone bureau Caregiver breakfast 2017 challenge 24,000,000 lifestyle australian social research community engagement income Generation Y mortgage Real Estate Institute of Victoria sector Skilling Financial Planning Week the hills learner casual speakers pack future of shopping megatrends plans Northern Beaches Christian School Netflix selfie princess charlotte speakers land of the middle class TDE australian communities forum professional presenters maiden names going out office volunteer 2014 NEETs family jobs of the future conference speaker 2016 census omnibus program food bank group survey design manly ageing population debt showreel train christmas trees cultural diveristy generation alpha australian priorities trades internship rental stress group session news tattoos micro Retail infographic wall DESTEL Charlotte google for education Adelaide christianity CPI high density living Aussies Christmas lunch trend tuesday TED employmer census fail nativity scene employment Deaths mining boom results Work place the changing face of conferences rise of local video Christmas in Australia housing market insights environmental scanning consumerism parenting baby name shopper's pick story Engineering Manager cars high density apartments winter blues Education Future Forum 23 million average sydneysider sydney hills christmas Sydney keynote speaker future-proof financial fears vegetarian local communities cloudy days narcissism Kirsten Brewer What is food insecurity? media SMART children wage conference presentation facts recap Christmas data baby boomers choice workers hornsby demographics in depth interviews commuters generational trends marrickville research focus groups Australian Families 2015 growing population child care Christmas season brand goal volunteering data hello fresh royal influence student mentor daily telegraph greatness small business know the times