5 Fundraising Trends to Leave in 2019

January 2, 2020 | Grace Duginski
5 Fundraising Trends to Leave in 2019

With the New Year celebrations behind us, folks are trickling back in from holiday vacations, reviewing the final year-end fundraising numbers, and firming up strategic plans for 2020. Whether you hit the ground running this year or are still getting your agenda in order, it’s a good time to evaluate the lessons learned in 2019. Here are a few fundraising habits and worries that didn’t serve us last year, from tools that value style over substance, buzzy fundraising campaigns that just don’t show the results you need, or “free” solutions that only cause more headaches down the road, leave these behind as you ring in 2020.

1. Scrounging for pennies from Uber, GrubHub, and other round-up-the-change initiatives

Even if folks are really generous, there’s no way to gather meaningful program support this way. Nonprofit work is too important to leave up to others’ tipping habits, and major support from well-stewarded funders deserves more of your energy and brain space in 2020. 

2. Spending too much energy on any one age group of supporters

With limited time and resources, it can be tempting to zero in on one target demographic for support. While the majority of your donors are likely middle-age and older, it’s important to start cultivating the next generation now. With the up-and-coming Gen Z, there’s a lot to get excited about – they’re consistently socially conscious, jazzed about volunteering and civic engagement, and on track to be more open-minded and progressive than almost any generation before. Their trajectory is exciting, and their energy is infectious. That being said, focusing on cultivating them as major donors right now – instead of spending energy on maintaining good stewardship of other generations of donors – isn’t the right move. Though they’re up and coming, they just don’t have the wealth older donors have, so do your best to involve Gen Z while keeping your eye on your own bottom line. 

3. Counting on “rage philanthropy” 

There’s no denying that the planet is seeing a long list of existential challenges right now, and that’s unlikely to change in 2020. Facing new struggles in your nonprofit’s area of work doesn’t necessarily get easier with time, and it’s always encouraging to receive an influx of donations when people hear about the obstacles you’re facing. That being said, beware anyone who says you can rely on “rage philanthropy” to make up funding gaps –unfortunately, that’s not a reliable source of income, especially as we all battle disaster fatigue

4. Using free online donation platforms

With tools that are labeled free to use, the costs are unfortunately often hidden. Whether it’s a lack of access to tech support, few or no upgrades or patches, or limited capacity to pull the sophisticated data you need, free software just isn’t the right fit for most nonprofits. Determining the scope of your CRM needs will help you pick out the right tools for consistent and helpful service in 2020. 

5. Prioritizing donations via cryptocurrencies

Despite some online chatter about donors making the switch to cryptocurrency, rest assured that the vast majority of donors will still make a credit card, cash, or check donation. (For example, only 18 percent of millennials own Bitcoin, and older generations still seem to prefer traditional wealth – including baby boomers, who control 60 percent of the U.S.’ wealth share.) It’s okay to get excited about the future, but don’t leave most of your donors behind by bumping all your other priorities in order to accept donations in Bitcoin. If you’re looking to expand your giving options this year, look at expanding your planned giving or peer-to-peer fundraising programs instead!


Whatever your plans for the year ahead, here at EveryAction we’re wishing you a 2020 full of success in achieving your organization’s mission and making the world a better place. Happy New Year!

P.S. If you’re still building 2020 fundraising plans, make sure to check out our strategic planning guide and template for an easy way to get started on the right foot!