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


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