Digital Fundraising Trends in 2024

Be a trend setter not a trend chaser with your approach to digital fundraising in 2024. Top 5 trends we’re expecting to see in the year ahead.

Digital Fundraising Trends 2024 - shows a persons hand stacking a block with the word "trends" on top of blocks with the words latest, hot and popular. Accompanied by a flurry of golden love hearts symbolising people giving to causes that they love.

What trends can we expect in digital fundraising during the coming 12 months? Everybody seems to like a window into the future of digital fundraising, as we’ve been asked this question a lot at conferences and webinars recently, so we wanted to outline a few thoughts here.

We’ll quickly summarise the top 5 trends that I think we’ll see in 2024, focusing on the “trendier” end of digital – I then want to briefly reiterate some of the basics we need to keep a close eye on to grow digital fundraising results.

Top 5 Digital Fundraising Trends for 2024

  1. Data and privacy – it took all the willpower in my typing hands not to lead with “something-something-AI” – phew, I did it! Data and privacy has been a hot topic in many parts of the world over recent years but thanks to Google’s Chrome finally catching up with other browsers and removing third-party cookies by default, this is bound to be a hot topic in 2024. Watch out for ad platforms scrabbling about to test new technology that gives advertisers the targeting options they need to justify their investment, whilst providing users with the privacy protection that they are demanding. A good place to start reading more about these developments is Cookie Status (which shows the status of cookie support across popular browsers) and Google’s Privacy Sandbox.
  2. Personalisation – this one has been around for a while. With increasing numbers of non-profits re-platforming their core CRM (customer relationship management) systems, we’re expecting to see increasing numbers looking to leverage the increased power of these integrated databases in their digital fundraising efforts. It’s one that can be high up on the hype cycle (lots of excitement, little return) but done well, it can really be a game changer. Even some of the simple personalisation solutions we’ve been working with, like personalised URLs (PURLs), can lead to a doubling of your appeal conversion rates, so it’s certainly worth exploring!
  3. Fundraising Chatbots – again, these have been humming away in the background for a little while. We’re seeing developments in large language models (LLMs) lead to a more rapid unlocking of the potential for chatbots and assistants. Think along the lines of a chatbot that can respond automatically to supporter questions about the type of work your organisation undertakes and how their contribution impacts. We expect that the sector will be slow to adopt this technology due to the risk involved in it “getting it wrong” and providing a poor (or even detrimental) supporter experience – however, expect to see a few presentations at a fundraising conference near you! One of the drivers of this type of technology is the trend for charities to be increasingly weary of telefundraising as a channel, thanks to recent data breaches and media reports being detrimental to public perception of this activity (don’t forget telefundraising still works, if done well).
  4. AI everything – artificial intelligence has been a hot topic throughout 2023 and we’re expecting it to get even hotter in 2024. This will likely be driven by the large number of startups building technology on top of large language models like ChatGPT and Google’s Bard. Some of the solutions are likely to be mind-blowing, many are likely to be overhyped pieces of garbage that might make your day-to-day slightly more painful in the long run. Test and choose wisely to make sure your organisation is extracting maximum value. These startups will cover a range of functions from generative AI (think writing your appeal letters/EDMS) to emotion AI (think understanding supporter data points to understand the potential emotional position of the supporter during the various stages of making a donation).
  5. Multi-touch attribution – Google Analytics 4 (GA4) shook up everything in 2023 and most non-profits have fully (or at least partially adopted) it by this point. However, we expect the topic of multi-touch attribution to continue to be a discussion point across nonprofits – with larger organisations starting to get to grips with models that occasionally deliver some form of actionable insight and most organisations still struggling to get actionable insights due to insufficient data points. Our advice here is to make sure you test different models before making decisions about where to invest your fundraising dollars – don’t take the television media sales reps’ word that your 90-second TV commercial drove all your monthly donor acquisition across an entire month ;-).

Remember, that a big part of our job as Digital Fundraisers is to moderate our enthusiasm for the “trendier” end of the trend spectrum and focus at least 80% of our effort on the stuff that actually works now. This can be challenging when your CEO gets back from the latest conference having seen a presentation on how you can’t make any more marketing investment decisions until you have implemented a multi-touch AI-driven attribution model – but by dodging the bluster and bullsh*t that’s out there, you can knuckle down and focus on what actually works.

A good starting point for understanding where different technologies are at in terms of their maturity and usefulness to your charity is by referencing the Hype Cycle (based on research by Gartner) see below for the 2023 Digital Marketing Hype Cycle:

Chart showing the Gartner Hype Cycle for Digital Marketing - it shows the items that are in early phases of development progressing through to the technology that is more mature and starting to prove results.

Need help being a fundraising trend setter and not a trend chaser?

Get in touch and talk to us about your fundraising objectives for 2024.

    Jon Dawson, CEO of Digital Ninjas
    Jonathan will get back to you soon

    What Works in Digital Fundraising?

    This needs another article to really do it justice, but here are three pillars that you can use to help you deliver fundraising results with what you have now:

    1. Measurement and analytics – Yes, start with properly implementing Google Analytics 4 (GA4) but don’t stop there! Ensure you’ve got your media platform-specific (Meta, TikTok etc.) pixels installed and tracking actions across your site as this will give you maximum efficiency from your paid media investment. Still, don’t even stop at platform-specific pixels. Get a measurement stack in place that will help you fully understand user behaviour across your site so that you can optimise based on these insights!
    2. Paid media prioritisation and diversification – Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Paid search (PPC – pay per click) will continue to be important in 2024. However, who knows where they will go in the longer term!? Make sure your paid media strategy is focused on channel diversification and that you’re experimenting across a range of paid media channels – yes, Meta will continue to be a core part of the mix for nonprofits. However, it would help if you spread your wings even further – ensure you’re not spreading your investment too thinly.
    3. Focus on first-party data – you’ll hear this mantra more and more across marketing and fundraising journals over the next 12 months. The demise of 3rd party cookies and forthcoming changes to tracking technology make it more critical than ever that you develop innovative ways to understand who your potential supporters are. By collecting their data early in the relationship with your organisation, you can establish rapport and build a high-quality ongoing relationship with them. Remember, not everyone likes to kiss on the first date – that’s why it’s essential to defocus fundraising in some of these early touch points and focus instead on how your cause can add value to your potential supporters’ lives. This value is often in the form of information or experiences that the supporter might be able to access in exchange for their contact information.

    Have a great year ahead and don’t forget, be trendy, but not too trendy!

    Trendy Digital Fundraisers - a group of fundraisers wearing cool looking clothing, set in a very trendy looking workplace
    When it comes to workplace fashion, you can be as trendy as you like. When it comes to digital fundraising and marketing trends remember not to jump on every trend as soon as you hear about it – this approach is likely to result in wasted funds and lost trust. (Thanks AI for the “trendy” photo – we have no idea about fashion).