Ministry Fundraising Outlook 2016: Data is King, Online Normalizes and Strategy is Simplified

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Trends in Ministry and Nonprofit Fundraising for 2016 from Douglas Shaw & Associates

With the coming year of political fundraising, unrest throughout the world, and an aging donor base -- ministry fundraisers are going to be pressed to make tough decisions about how to spend their fundraising resources.

Douglas Shaw & Associates, one of the top ministry fundraising agencies in the U.S., has released the five trends that will be shaping nonprofit fundraising decisions in 2016.

“Through our work with some of the top nonprofits and ministries, we’ve been able to identify common themes that have arisen in the planning process for 2016,” said Douglas Shaw, chairman and CEO of Douglas Shaw & Associates. “Expect to see ministries and nonprofits moving toward more understanding-based, personal outreach for more effective fundraising.”

1. Donor Behavior Data is Key

The use of outside data (non-financial, behavioral data) will increase to target donors more effectively with offers. “Donors will increasingly expect that you know them from their behavior not just from their communication,” said Mark Loux, senior vice president of strategy and analytics for Douglas Shaw & Associates. “And more importantly, donors will look for nonprofit organizations to use that behavior data to communicate with them differently. The research on your donors needs to give a complete picture of what motivates and inspires them in order to create the most effective campaigns.”

2. Direct is Relevant – and Effective

Direct mail will continue to be one of the most valuable channels in 2016 as not only 65+ donors prefer it but so do those 18-34. “Direct mail continues to be a solid performer in the marketing mix,” said Michael Johnson, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for Douglas Shaw & Associates.

3. Online Growth Rates Fall in Line

Online giving growth rates will continue to drop back toward overall growth rates as the donor-initiated movement to include online giving as a channel is now limited to late majority and laggards in the technology adoption lifecycle. Growth will continue but require more strategic use of all digital channels to motivate giving.

4. Finding the Power in Simplicity

When it comes to growing revenue, more organizations are now simplifying their strategy. “There are only three primary metrics that we obsess over—traffic, conversion rate, and average gift. Optimizing all three is the secret to exponential revenue growth,” said Tim Kachuriak, chief innovation & optimization officer for NextAfter.

5. Using The Web as a Living Laboratory

Good fundraisers have always believed in the value of testing. But with traditional direct response channels, testing was expensive, time consuming and often yielded ambiguous results. The Internet has changed all of this. “Today we can use the web to virtually peer inside the minds of our donors so that we can better understand what inspires and motivates them to give, “ said Kachuriak. “In 2015, we have documented and published more than 200 online experiments and we expect to see a much greater focus on email and web site testing and conversion rate optimization in 2016 and beyond.”

About Douglas Shaw & Associates
Douglas Shaw & Associates, based in Naperville, Ill., is a full-service multichannel marketing company helping nonprofits and ministries support their vision through donor acquisition and fundraising. Our work generates measurably higher levels of giving through diverse channels including direct mail, digital, email, and broadcast. For more information, visit

About NextAfter
NextAfter is a research lab and consultancy that works with nonprofits to grow online revenue and is currently conducting a research study in partnership with Douglas Shaw & Associates that analyzes the value propositions of the largest nonprofits in the world. To learn more about the research, visit:

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Laura McGowan
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