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


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