8 Must-Know Nonprofit Trends for 2022

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By Amanda L. Cole

While we made it to 2022, it still may be difficult to grasp what the nonprofit sector will look like this year. A lot has changed in the past two years. To keep up with all changes and challenges nonprofit fundraisers and executives may encounter each year, NonProfit PRO compiles nonprofit trends each year to learn predictions on emerging fundraising and leadership tactics for the year ahead.

We spoke to eight experts spanning nonprofit organizations, agencies and technology providers to see what they foresee as being 2022’s top nonprofit trends across nine categories that include: Big Ideas; Fundraising; Direct Marketing; Technology; Giving and Donor Relations; Leadership Strategies; Board Development; Peer-to-Peer; and — new for 2022 — Mission Awareness. Here’s a glimpse at eight of the 40 nonprofit trends for 2022.

1. Digital Wallets

Digitization of payment technology will be the most important trend coming out of the pandemic. According to Visa’s Payment Panel in 2020, we have seen a 10% increase of credit card usage for charitable giving spend and a 20% decline in check giving over the past five years. With options like Apple Pay, Google Pay, Visa Direct and other digital wallets, as well as improved online donation form experiences and QR code usage driving individual givers to donate online, this is a trend that will continue in the coming years. The digitization has also begun to extend into other giving channels like stock giving and donor-advised funds as well as a major increase in the adoption of cryptocurrency for affluent donors looking to support organizations.

— Tim Sarrantonio, Director of Corporate Brand, Neon One

2. Nonprofit Office Culture

The importance of leading with empathy while championing an inclusive culture can’t be overstated. We’re going into the third year of the pandemic. People have experienced great loss, battled with mental health issues and struggled to establish some semblance of normalcy. To keep teams motivated and inspired, the workplace must be an environment where they feel supported, accepted and understood. Creating this type of culture involves investing in initiatives like diversity, equity and inclusion policies, and it requires an authentic commitment from leadership that inclusion really matters. In addition, focusing on mental health will continue to be important in 2022. Providing support resources, supporting wellness programs, encouraging flexibility across the organization and normalizing discussion on how people are doing and feeling is a critical component of people feeling seen and valued.

— Erin Mulligan Nelson, CEO, Social Solutions

3. Technology for Good

[We are] describing our donors as transactional units — major donors, LYBYNT, SYBUNT, etc. — even as internal fundraising jargon is being challenged. We don’t have the answers, but it’s a good time to rethink how we choose to call our donors and partners. As nonprofits dabble with AI to mine information about donors, we have to ask ourselves — are we using tech for good? Are we using tech to promote equity? What are our privacy guardrails? What are we doing to keep our donor information safe from hackers? And do we have a rapid response plan in place when we need to share bad news with our donors?

— Pinky Vincent, Assistant Director of Development & Marketing, Change Machine

4. Build Future Board Members

Building and maintaining a bench of future leaders must remain an ongoing discipline. Focus on creating leadership pathways within your organization that enables individuals to demonstrate their strengths and grow with you, ultimately into the role of a board member.

— Rick Willis, Senior Vice President of Community Engagement & Revenue Strategy, Arthritis Foundation

5. Increased Donor Privacy

This past year, Apple released several privacy updates that changed the way brands track consumer engagement, limiting email open rate data and activity tracking among IP addresses. We’ll likely see more privacy updates in the coming year as additional companies choose to prioritize consumer data rights.

In light of these updates, I expect to see nonprofits adapt ways they reach and connect with donors. There will be more focus on letting donors choose how and where their information is shared, and how they like to be engaged with as a result, which is really a form of donor empowerment. Personalization will be critical to build relationships that result in loyal donor bases. Nonprofit interactions with supporters will need to be tailored according to their stage of life, intent, and preferences for communication. There’s a lot a nonprofit can learn from looking within their specific donor base.

— Chris Himes, CEO, Classy

6. Lean on Social Media Followers

Peer-to-peer is the culmination of traditional word-of-mouth and friends and family referrals plus social-web evangelists and influencers. And nonprofits need to make the most of it. People give to people, and nothing is more impactful in our highly connected and socially conscious world than a recommendation from someone we know and trust. “Knowing” someone is also more fluid now, we are connected to hundreds, sometimes thousands of people we’ve never met in real life, so nonprofits need to build up donor relations’ skill sets within their social media community management teams to find those followers who are willing and able to help promote initiatives and provide testimonials to inspire and educate those less familiar with the mission.

— Brenna Holmes, Principal and Senior Vice President, Chapman Cubine Allen + Hussey

7. Fundraiser Time Management

With the on-again-off-again pandemic shutdown, fundraising professionals are longing [for] connection with our supporters. To do so effectively, we need to meet donors where they are. Are they tech-savvy and enjoy connecting via Zoom, or are they over it? Are they old-school and enjoy phone conversations? Perhaps they would enjoy a walking conversation with you in their neighborhood or at the nature preserve they support. Often, we suggest connecting in the communication medium we prefer. Isn’t it true that meeting by Zoom has become an assumption? We’re taken by surprise when someone wants an old-fashioned phone call. I’ve learned many lessons from this pandemic. Two of them are that time is precious and that I should make no assumptions.

— Tammy Zonker, Founder, Fundraising Transformed

8. Find New Audiences

One of the best ways a nonprofit can get the word out about their mission is to be present where donors tend to navigate. As fundraisers, we oftentimes attend events and meetings where we see and interact with our peers, but a key strategy to share your mission outside of the typical audience is to attend events, sit on panels and write to audiences that are not in the nonprofit space. This is expanding your voice and opening doors to donors you otherwise would not have engaged.

— Tarsha Whitaker Calloway, Vice President of Philanthropy, Tessitura Network

For more trends from our thought leaders, download our free resource, “40 Nonprofit Trends for 2022.”

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