Published January 4, 2023 by the Chronicle of Philanthropy

Trends 2023 Word in White Sticky Note on Blue Cardboard Background


As we enter 2023, fundraisers are doing a final tally of year-end campaigns and looking ahead to what the new year might hold. Here are the trends nonprofits will likely encounter as they try to keep the money flowing into their coffers this year.

1. Staffing

Just because the Great Resignation and high turnover have been talked about ad nauseum doesn’t mean staffing issues among fundraisers have subsided. Nonprofits have struggled over all to hire and retain talent at every level. And an exclusive Chronicle survey of fundraisers found that development vacancies that began during the pandemic have led to burnout among the folks who remain. Fundraisers also reported being stressed as they face unrealistic expectations from boards and executive directors.

In 2023, it will be crucial for nonprofits to figure out ways to adequately staff their fundraising teams — whether those departments are made up of a single person or hundreds. Creating a work environment that helps fundraisers stay engaged will be more important than ever. For pointers, read about a Unicef program that aims to retain fundraisers and a recent report on what motivates and demotivates fundraisers.

2. Economic Conditions

Inflation reached record highs in 2022, layoffs permeated the tech sector, and talk of a recession in 2023 mushroomed, suggesting that worries about the economy will loom large.

Tim Sarrantonio, vice chair of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, told us during the lead-up to GivingTuesday that “in times of economic recession and uncertainty, there is almost an inverse reaction by donors to be more generous in the beginning intensity of when you might see prices going up.”

Donors gave a record $3.1 billion on GivingTuesday. But if that inverse relationship shows up at the “beginning intensity” of economic pressure, what will happen in 2023 if uncertainty — or an eventual downturn — lingers? Fundraisers will need to bring their A-games and be ready for challenges.

3. Diversifying Fundraising

Ever since George Floyd’s murder in 2020, diversity and inclusion have been top of mind for many nonprofits. Unfortunately, despite more nonprofits thinking of how to address the subject — in terms of their staff, their leaders, and the people they serve — progress is slow.

Despite a stronger focus on diversity, leaders of color continue to face hurdles in the nonprofit world. Take the case of a Black leader who resigned in November alleging racial bias by her board, even after she nearly doubled the organization’s revenue. Development leadership at the largest groups still lacks diversity, and fundraisers in our exclusive survey remain concerned about diversity.

This year is another chance for organizations to tackle diversity and inclusion. For new ideas, check out organizations that are trying to diversify volunteer recruitment, a study on diversifying donor pools, and a group that created Black affinity groups for donors.

4. Polarization

Unfortunately, the nation continues to be divided politically, which impacts how donors view nonprofits. In some instances, donors are shying away from or demanding changes based on their perceptions of where charities stand on the issues. Yet donors may actually give more if they are concerned or angry about an issue.

Fundraisers and consultants say it’s critical to prepare ahead of time for challenging conversations with donors about politically charged subjects and to be upfront with supporters. Chronicle opinion writers also offer suggestions on how to approach the subject of polarization, ways to bridge the gap between opposing groups, and how to keep polarization from impacting religious exemptions.

5. Talking to Donors From All Backgrounds

Nonprofits’ supporter ranks are changing as women donors, donors of color, and younger donors step up their giving. Courting these donors and keeping them in the giving pipeline will be crucial to nonprofit budgets.

Fundraisers need to better communicate with donors from lots of backgrounds. Looking for new ways to talk to donors? Check out our articles on what motivates wealthy donors of color and how to personalize donor communicationtailor approaches to women donors, and forge connections with small-dollar donors.