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


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