Five Trends in Philanthropy for 2020

By Avrum Lapin

As we embark on a new year and new decade, trends in the philanthropic landscape continue to adapt to meet the needs of nonprofits and the expectations and proclivities of donors. Going forward, donors will want to be more engaged in the causes they care about, particularly in our political climate with an election season quickly approaching. Organizations will want to be prepared for what’s to come and the upcoming trends in giving.

Read below for the five most meaningful trends we will see this year and in years ahead.

1. Stronger focus on mission, priorities, and the needs and expectation of the nonprofit and its supporters

Donors want to know that their gifts are being used for their intended purposes in a clear and up-front manner. Particularly with the “distraction” of upcoming elections, donors are looking for transparency from nonprofits in how they are using their funds and their financial priorities.

Nonprofits and donors will experience many competing interests. It will be important for the success of your mission to maintain clarity and strategic direction. One way to do this, before a campaign is launched, is engage your community and its stakeholders through a pre-campaign assessment. This article details how TLG approaches a pre-campaign assessment. And it doesn’t need to take months and months; there are efficient and compact ways of doing an assessment in today’s time sensitive environment.

Understanding the needs and desires of your constituencies will help you prepare for clear messaging and focused outcomes. Engage your donors in this process, and be guided by what they are saying and the questions that they ask. Embrace feedback…and listen. Learn more about the importance of listening to your donors here.

2. “PoliticizedGiving and The Election Season

Historically, there is an uptick in giving during a presidential cycle. In 2020 in particular, there is a greater understanding of the impact of a presidential election cycle on giving, and its influence on public policy. People are generally more engaged, in the community and globally, during an election year.

There will likely be more direct focus on causes related to community affairs, civil rights, social action and advocacy, as people are in tune with their own positions, and making decisions about what is most important to them. Following an election, these previously mentioned causes will typically see a large increase in giving and, according to, donors who give following an election are 50% more likely to remain engaged and continue giving 18 months later. Organizations that focus on these causes should start preparing now for ways to engage donors in the latter part of the year.

3. Transparency and Financial Accountability

Donors, as noted earlier, demand a clear and transparent idea of where their money is going, how it is being used, and the results that it creates, in both the short and long term. Donors today are more directly engaged with their philanthropic causes than ever before and want to be sure that their funds are being used correctly and to achieve the impact that those results will generate. Impact transparency will continue to remain increasingly important. Demonstrating the impact that philanthropic dollars make on your nonprofit empowers donors to continue to give and remain engaged in a variety of ways.

4. Accessibility in Giving

As the landscape of philanthropy evolves, so will methods of giving. Shopping is as easy as telling Alexa or a Google Home device what you need, from the dinner table or your couch. Looking ahead to the future of fundraising, nonprofits will adapt to innovative technology to make giving for donors as easy as shopping (“Alexa, make a donation to …”). Text to Give platforms increase every year, as will other giving related technology, and nonprofits must prepare for and embrace it.

Additionally, monthly giving continues to increase, as donors are already engaged in monthly subscription services in other areas of their lives. It is more important than ever to meet donors where they are and be as approachable as possible.

5. Donor LoyaltyOr Not

Donors today are looking for personalized experiences and communication. Giving, while still transactional, is more personal, particularly for new donors. They want to know that the causes they care about have shared values with them. They are constantly seeking out opportunities to share ideas and feedback, and know that they have been heard. Organizations must be aware that donor engagement needs to adapt to this trend, as well. Another great way to personalize donors experience and build loyalty, is through acknowledgement and appreciation. Showing genuine appreciation empowers donors and contributes to increased future engagement and recurring gifts. Learn more about how TLG approaches donor appreciation here.

Avrum Lapin is President at The Lapin Group, LLC, based in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, a full-service fundraising and management consulting firm for leading nonprofits. The Lapin Group inspires and leads US-based and international nonprofits seeking fund, organizational, leadership, and business development solutions, offering contemporary and leading-edge approaches and strategies. A Board member of the Giving Institute and a member of the Editorial Review Board of Giving USA, Avrum is a frequent contributor to and speaker in the US and in Israel on opportunities and challenges in today’s nonprofit marketplace.

To learn more about how TLG can help you achieve success and meet your goals in 2020 and beyond, visit our site at