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.

2016 Australian Communities Forum Recap

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Last Thursday, McCrindle Research and R2L&Associates were proud to present the Sydney Australian Communities Forum (ACF) at Customs House in Sydney. The ACF featured 15 brilliant speakers and 4 jam-packed sessions.


We began the day with tea and coffee on arrival before kicking off our first session, which focused on the research results from the Australian Communities Trends Report into Australia's not-for-profit sector. Before we launched into the findings we received a warm welcome from the honourable Catherine Cusack MLC, Parliamentary secretary to the Premier of NSW, and Professor Kerryn Phelps AM, Deputy Lord Mayor on behalf of our principal event sponsor, the City of Sydney.

SESSION 1 - introduction

Mark McCrindle opened Session 1 with an introduction to Australia's generational landscape and gave a snapshot of the key factors influencing Australian communities and some surprising findings from the just-completed Australian Communities Report. Mark provided an overview of giving in Australia, indicating that 4 in 5 Australians give financially to charities / not-for-profits, and that 1 in 4 give at least once a month.

McCrindle Team Leader of Analytics, Annie Phillips continued to share about the quantitative insights from the research, identifying the top 7 causes Australians support (Children's charities, medical research, animal welfare, disaster response in Australia, disability, homelessness and mental health), the 5 charity essentials and the top communication channels. Annie also provided an explanation of the Net Promotor Score (29) and Net Culture Score (21) for the sector, which were both very high.

Sophie Rention, Research Executive at McCrindle then communicated some of the key qualitative findings from the Australian Communities Trends Report. Sophie highlighted the key blockers (e.g. complex giving process) and enablers (e.g. personal connection) to charitable giving for Australians, as well as the next steps for charities including creating multi-tiered levels of engagement, community building, effective communication of results and fun and engaging experiences. 

We then heard from John Rose, principal at R2L&Associates about what this research means for community organisations and how they can best respond to the findings. In his insights and applications John reminded our delegates that in the midst of changes in the marketplace, trust and relevance is essential. John then presented 5 key issues for charities to keep in mind when engaging with the ever-changing supporter which included aligning, defining, communicating, engaging and leading.

Each of our delegates also received a copy of The Australian Communities Trends Infographic which contains the top line findings from the national study into Australian giving and how charities can engage.


SESSION 2 - keynotes

After a networking break over morning tea Eliane Miles, Research Director at McCrindle shared an engaging keynote presentation on Leading teams and managing change in transformative times. In the post linear, post literate and post logical workforce, Eliane reminded us that to engage and inspire our workplaces we need to ensure a culture of contribution, challenge and celebration within our teams. To attract and retain, to lead and inspire, we need to cultivate authenticity. 

Our next keynote, Josh Hawkins emphasised the importance of creativity in social media and marketing campaigns. Josh showed us that creative and fun campaigns are the ones that get cut through. Josh also inspired us to be authentic with our marketing and leadership to under 30's. Through humour, engaging videos and key takeaways, Josh's presentation reminded us that when you "Give someone a task you'll get what you ask for". But when you "Give them a vision you'll get more than you could ever ask for". 

Our final keynote speaker before lunch was Ivan Motley, found of .id The Population Experts. Specialising in using data to inform decisions and shape the future, Ivan and his team talked us through how analytics can shape the quality of education, housing, health, the environment and education. Using some practical case studies, the id. team showed us why we should be using local data to understand our communities, and how information and data can help transform communities.

SESSION 3 - streams

Stream 1: Understanding Australian Communities

In this stream Geoff Brailey, Research Executive at McCrindle began by giving an overview of the next generation of volunteers and donors, and tips on how to engage and motivate them. This was followed by Nic Bolto who encouraged us to do the hard work as leaders and how to effectively implement insights in organisations. Our last stream speaker for this session was James Ward, a Director at NBRS Architecture who showed us, through a case study, how understanding spaces and building communities can help to improve people's lives.

Stream 2: Engaging Australian Communities

In Stream 2, McCrindle Team Leader of Communications Ashley McKenzie began this session by giving practical tips and insights on how to communicate complex data in message saturated times. Following on was Salvation Army officer Bryce Davies who shared how The Salvation Army build community in areas of social challenge by creating communities focused on respect, encouragement and belonging. Our final stream 2 speaker Greg Low, co-founder of R2L&Associates gave us five essentials to make your next marketing or fundraising campaign thrive.


Following afternoon tea and some great networking, we gathered back together to hear from our last two speakers, Caitlin Barrett from Love Mercy and Andy Gourley from Red Frogs. 

Caitlin Barrett, CEO of the Love Mercy Foundation kicked off our afternoon session by telling us the engaging story of how Love Mercy was founded after Australian Olympian met Ugandan Olympian and former child soldier Julius Achon. After sharing the vision and mission of Love Mercy, Caitlin shared how they engage the community through telling personal stories, the importance of finding the right audience for the right story and telling the right details to provide an experience.  

Our last speaker for the day was Andy Gourley, founder and director of Red Frogs Australia. After having founded Red Frogs in 1997, Red Frogs is now the largest support network in Australia for Schoolies, festivals and universities. Through the use of engaging stories and hard-hitting realities, Andy effectively communicated how Red Frogs was founded and the crucial role they play in safeguarding vulnerable young people at events like Schoolies and festivals.  

We would like to thank all of our speakers and delegates for making the 2016 Australian Communities Forum a fantastic event. A big thank you to our sponsors, The City of Sydney, Pro Bono Australia, Hope 103.2 and ConnectingUp as well for your support in making this event happen.

Creating a culture of wellbeing: Leading in times of Change

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

That our world is changing and shifting is not surprising – it’s the key definer of our times. On the one hand the centripetal force of change can push us towards constant innovation. We can be invigorated by the newness around us, so that our means of communication, the way we work and the spaces in which we engage are ever-evolving.

On the other, the speed and scale of change can leave us feeling overwhelmed as we work out how to navigate and juggle complex personal and professional demands.

As leaders, we often find ourselves leading teams of individuals immersed in the rapid uptake of change. Our teams respond to this change in different ways – some with a type of change fatigue in which new initiatives are merged with the old, rather than looking to new horizons. Others respond with change apathy, checking out altogether.

 In these fast-moving times, how do we lead ourselves, our teams, and our organisations through times of change?

Leadership author John C Maxwell once said that in order to lead others, we must first learn to lead ourselves. He also advised, “If you’re leading and no one is following, you’re just out for a walk.” Leadership begins by looking inward, rather than outward. It begins by taking a look at your personal values alignment, learning style, and wellness gauge.

  • Your values alignment: How do your personal passions and strengths align with the ethos and values of the organisation that you are a part of? Recognising areas where your personal passions align with your organisation’s passions will give a greater sense of energy and purpose to your work.
  • Your learning style: How do you learn, get inspired, and stay motivated? As leaders, it’s important to stay fresh by identifying sources of personal inspiration – it could be simple things like reading content that inspires, carving out down-time, or networking with leaders who are just that one step ahead of where you are.
  • Your wellness gauge: How are you tracking in terms of your energy levels and personal wellbeing? Busy lives leave little space for margin and it’s more important than ever before to carve out time to be adaptable and flexible. Manage your screen time and bring in more green time, watch your health and nutrition, and create some space for reflection and deep thinking.

The leadership styles that the new generations respond to are those that embody collaboration, authenticity, mutual understanding and empowerment. When it comes to building resilient teams, it’s not just about processes and policies, but about helping individuals thrive in complex and ever-changing business environments. Our research has identified several key drivers among young workers that motivate them towards engagement:

  • The drive for complexity and challenge: Today’s career-starters are full of innovative ideas towards problems and thrive on identifying solutions. Creating space for the cultivation of ideas and innovation is key not only for better organisational performance but strong employee engagement. When was the last time you gave your team permission to step up to the challenge of solving your most critical problem?
  • The drive for variability and flexibility: Empowering your team to take control of their workload provides them with the opportunity to structure their day towards their most productive times and builds greater levels of team trust. When team members are engaged with the vision and have the skills they need to drive the team forward, hands-off management is always better than micro-management.
  • The drive for community and belonging: In an era where movement is a constant and flux is inevitable, workplace communities have become 21st century families. Establishing a team culture where individuals themselves are celebrated (not just their work-related wins) is critical to developing work-place tribes.

Organisational change is up to all of us, and moving ahead as an organisation involves directing individuals at all levels into forward horizons by leveraging the team’s combined power for innovation. We each lead by example by creating the initiatives and by driving the culture.

In our work with hundreds of organisations across Australia, we have identified several consistent characteristics evident within organisations that have thrived in times of change. These include:

  • Organisations who scan the external horizon. By understanding the current demographic, economic, social, and technological environment, leadership teams are able to make robust and solid decisions that guide their organisation towards its future. While the future can seem uncertain, getting a grasp on the current environment adds confidence to the decision-making process that is needed to stir a ship in a new direction.
  • Organisations who commit to being the ‘only ones’ at what they do. We consistently watch organisations position themselves alongside their competitors to understand what the market is offering. Yet it’s so easy to get caught up in ‘keeping up’ that we lose track of the unique abilities that only our teams can bring. Look inside at who is on your team before looking outward to what you can bring. Commit to carving out a niche that is true to who you are, not what your competitors are offering.
  • Organisations who put their people first. Organisational leadership is at its best when people are the priority. There are countless ways to create value for individuals within your teams (50 Best Places to Work 2016 features just some of them!), and when people thrive, not only is there lower turnover and a larger applicant base, but client relationships are at their peak, there is better innovation, greater productivity, and more sustained long-term business growth.

-Eliane Miles

Eliane Miles is a social researcher, trends analyst and Director of Research at the internationally recognised McCrindle.

At the Australian Communities Forum 2016 on October 13th she will give an overview of each generation in the workforce and some analysis of their needs and expectations, as well as strategies to manage change, inspire innovation and create a collaborative and adaptive organisation.

Purchase your ticket here

Hornsby Shire Council [Case Study]

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

At McCrindle, our forecasts identify trends. Our strategy informs decisions. Our research future-proofs organisations. The social, generational, economic and demographic trends impacting local communities create not only new challenges but great opportunities. Unprecedented change can sometimes lead to change fatigue where the response can be to become worried about change, or equally it can lead to change apathy which can create an indifference to change. However, by understanding the emerging trends, we can be more prepared for the changes and so rather than becoming defensive or blasé we can respond to the shifts, influence the trends and shape the future.

We are engaged by some of the leading brands and organisations across Australia to help them understand the ever-changing external environment in which they operate and to assist them in identifying and responding to the key trends.

It is a privilege to see our research in action in the Hornsby Shire’s bench-marking report. This report has been designed to inform community members, councillors, staff and other government agencies about local issues for Hornsby Shire residents. The results of our research can be summarised in the following top 10 trends we identified across the Hornsby Shire. 

Top 10 trends for the Hornsby Shire

  1. Growing population, increasing densification
  2. Ageing population, transitioning generations
  3. Educational attainment, professional employment
  4. Entrepreneurship for small and home-based businesses
  5. Property ownership and investment growth
  6. Stable workforce, lower unemployment
  7. Mobile lifestyle enabled though public transport and cars
  8. A home for families and the next generations
  9. A place of cultural and language diversity
  10. The lifestyle shire

Read or download the report for the latest demographic and social trends insights affecting Hornsby Shire

About McCrindle Research Solutions

For great organisations, innovation is the oxygen of success. To innovate effectively, organisations need to understand the times and track the trends. Our market and social research services not only utilise the best research tools but ensure that the findings can be implemented by incorporating the most useful research output. Check our our Research Solutions pack to see how we can assist your organisation today.

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