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


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