Trends & Insights

5 Nonprofit Fundraising Trends Every Nonprofit CFO Should Know

Learn five of the top nonprofit fundraising trends seen in 2023 and how CFOs can better leverage financial data to gain valuable insights.

The Sage Intacct 2023 Nonprofit Technology Trends Report and the OneCause 2023 Fundraising Outlook: Insights for Planning and Prioritization report are annual surveys that share trends about where organizations are finding success and facing challenges with nonprofit fundraising. Taken together, these reports offer valuable insights into nonprofit fundraising trends, communications and donor engagement, and the technology used by nonprofit CFOs in support of fundraising strategies.

The 2023 reports revealed both event and online fundraising revenue are vital to success. However, nonprofit CFOs remain concerned about how to maintain donor engagement and combat fatigue to ensure consistent funding.

This article presents five of the top nonprofit fundraising trends seen in 2023. We also offer practical steps nonprofit CFOs can take to better leverage financial data to gain actionable insights and improve mission storytelling to drive funding. 

Trend #1: A mix of in-person and hybrid fundraising events delivers greater success than a virtual-only approach

Nearly 80% of organizations reported being in line with or outperforming their event fundraising goals. It’s worth noting, however, that between a quarter to a third of nonprofits with an annual operating revenue of less than $1 million raised less than anticipated.

One welcomed nonprofit fundraising trend is that organizations offering a wide variety of events successfully appeal to broader audiences. Of nonprofits holding in-person and hybrid events, 80% reported they were somewhat or very successful in meeting their fundraising goals compared to 70% of organizations holding only virtual events. The events showing the strongest performance included in-person auction events (83%), golf outings (77%), and in-person donation events (73%).

Fundraising tip: With economic uncertainty still looming, nonprofit CFOs should continue to prioritize budgeting and planning. A modern, cloud nonprofit financial management solution provides real-time visibility into performance so your organization can identify successful fundraising events that meet financial goals and enhance donor engagement. Access to robust financial management tools allows your team to demonstrate fundraising successes and show donors the impact of contributions.

Trend #2: The biggest fundraising challenges are donor-related, especially in terms of engagement and fatigue

Nonprofit organizations have worried about donor-related challenges for many years. In this year’s report covering nonprofit fundraising trends, these challenges continued to dominate the concerns of fundraising professionals. The top four fundraising challenges were all donor-related including:

  • Donor engagement (88%)
  • Donor fatigue (86%)
  • Recurring giving (86%)
  • Donor retention (85%)

To keep donors engaged, the most successful nonprofit organizations are offering a variety of engagement opportunities as discussed in the first trend. It’s equally important for nonprofit organizations to communicate and connect with donors where they are. According to the Sage Intacct 2023 Nonprofit Technology Trends Report, we have seen social media use by nonprofits increase from 65% in 2020 to 73% in 2023. And for the third year in a row, nonprofit leaders report that the biggest outcome of their social media strategy is increased engagement.

Source: 2023 Nonprofit Technology Trends Report

Fundraising tip: Despite the long-standing concern over donor fatigue, donors have consistently proven that they are willing to give—especially when they feel connected to a cause and can see their dollars making an impact. People give to causes that are timely, urgent, and receive substantial media coverage. Use your financial data to break through the noise, reinforce your story of mission impact, and provide a clear message on the channels that reach your donor audience.

Trend #3: Inconsistent access to data is the biggest roadblock for many nonprofit CFOs

As nonprofits plan their fundraising strategies in 2023 and beyond, the report shows that inconsistent access to data and a lack of time and resources to analyze that data will continue blocking access to data insights. In the OneCause survey, only 18% of nonprofits said they had the data needed to form actionable insights and were successfully using that data for decision-making.

Whether the reason is time, lack of resources, or both, nonprofit leaders are often spending a lot of time and energy on routine reporting and tasks. The Sage Intacct 2023 Nonprofit Technology Trends Report found that 66% of nonprofit finance leaders are spending more than half of their time on tactical work versus strategic work—but would like to spend more time on strategy.

Source: 2023 Nonprofit Technology Trends Report

Fundraising tip: Nonprofit CFOs and finance leaders need timely, insightful financial reporting to make mission-critical decisions. If data and reports are generated manually, finance teams can’t react in real-time to mitigate risk or take advantage of new opportunities to engage donors. That’s why it’s important to evaluate your software to ensure you have a modern nonprofit financial management solution that seamlessly integrates with all your key business systems (fundraising, donor management, grant management, etc.), automates routine tasks, and allows you to measure real-time data quickly.

Trend #4: More nonprofits are prioritizing donor acquisition

Over the last few years, we have experienced a global pandemic, international humanitarian conflict, natural disasters, and a 40-year high inflation rate. Yet these events also ignited increases in charitable giving and have continued to fuel donor engagement despite a heavy reliance on virtual-only fundraising during that time. 2023 marks not only a return to in-person events, but also a prioritization of donor acquisition for more than 60% of nonprofits. More than half of nonprofits also anticipated strengthening relationships with existing donors and increasing funds raised from existing campaigns.

Fundraising tip: According to the OneCause report, social giving has grown six percent since 2018. Many nonprofit organizations have capitalized on this with the expanded use of virtual and hybrid programming to reach new donor bases. To support donor acquisition efforts, nonprofit finance leaders should provide data and impact metrics to reinforce your organization’s story. The ability of your organization to tell the story of mission impact to constituents can be the key to long-term success and growth.

Trend #5: The right tech stack is driving efficiency and helping nonprofit CFOs demonstrate good stewardship

Access to accurate, timely financial results and outcome metrics is essential for nonprofit CFOs working to support efforts to acquire new donors and better engage existing donors. Donor acquisition and retention may be driven by donor management and CRM systems, but they should be integrated with nonprofit financial management software. With integrated solutions, your organization can demonstrate transparency and stewardship to present a more complete mission story.

Source: 2023 Nonprofit Technology Trends Report

The ability to integrate with other systems helps your organization ensure the timely delivery of information about program outcomes as well as demonstrate the impact your organization makes with each dollar of funding.

Fundraising Tip: Make sure your nonprofit financial management software can deliver essential functionality like the ability to automate financial reporting, integrate with other systems, manage multiple funds, and automate outcome metrics. To demonstrate good financial stewardship to new and existing donors, lean on your nonprofit financial management solution to provide full transparency for compliance.

Final thoughts

Now is a great time to boost fundraising by focusing on donor engagement. With more tools in the toolbox than ever before, your nonprofit organization can reach donors with the specific messages they need to hear—and offer a mix of fundraising activities that appeal to wider audiences. By staying on top of nonprofit fundraising trends, your organization is ready to tackle changing conditions and capitalize on new opportunities. In today’s digital, data-driven world, the most successful nonprofits will provide donors with timely data and metrics demonstrating successful outcomes and proving mission impact.

To find out how your nonprofit organization can attract and retain donors with mission-specific data and metrics, download the 4 Steps to Greater Nonprofit Stewardship with Digital Finance Transformation e-book.

4 Steps to Greater Nonprofit Stewardship with Digital Finance Transformation

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