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


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