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Podcast | Trends Roundup: Generational Giving, AmazonSmile, Live Streaming, and ChatGPT

It’s hard to believe we’re already nearing the end of 2023’s first quarter! These first three months have been full of headlines nonprofit professionals should pay attention to.

In this episode, we’ve invited Pursuant Insights Consultant Nicholas Hedenkamp to discuss the latest trends and biggest news in the fundraising world. Four topics have been on his radar:


1. Giving USA Special Report: Giving by Generation

The Giving USA Foundation recently released its special report, “Giving by Generation.” It looked at giving across different generations from 2016-2022 and found some exciting changes:

  • Millennial households gave 40% more on average in 2022 than in 2016. This increase has bumped the average annual contribution from $942 to $1,323.
  • During this same time, giving fell by 4% for Gen X households and 12% for boomers.

The big takeaway is that millennials and Gen Z are increasing their overall giving. So, fundraisers must start thinking about how to better engage these younger donors.

More specifically, how can you use data to examine the different types of organizations millennials give to? Drilling into this information will help you identify the causes that matter most to these donors. Then, as a nonprofit, think about how you can hit on that passion and continue to engage these generations so that your cause becomes their cause.


2. No More AmazonSmile

In January, Amazon somewhat abruptly announced it was discontinuing its AmazonSmile program at the end of February. The company said it wasn’t an effective tool for charities, as the average annual donation was $230. However, since the program started, Amazon has donated more than $400 million to charity.

As fundraisers, we know every dollar helps. So, it’ll be interesting to see what takes its place. Some companies like PayPal and Target Circle let consumers designate an extra dollar or a portion of their purchases to different charities, and others will likely follow.

Nonprofits may consider an email campaign or other outreach to inform donors about these different ways to give. For instance, giving $1 to a charity of choice every time PayPal is used could lead to a significant donation over the course of the year.


3. Tips for Live Streaming and Zoom Events

The Chronicle of Philanthropy recently published two articles with tips for live streaming and Zoom fundraising events. Virtual events remain good ways to connect with donors, and they let local or regional nonprofits expand their reach.

The first article shared how nonprofits can successfully utilize influencers:

  • Choose a streamer with a personal connection to your cause. Otherwise, their endorsement will sound forced.
  • Think small. Sometimes, the most effective fundraising comes from those with fewer than 10,000 followers because they have a stronger connection to their audience.
  • Make it easy for your streamers by giving them a script or talking points to show they know your mission.
  • Keep building those relationships. Make sure the influencer stays connected with your organization for years to come.

The second article shared great tips for running a fundraiser via Zoom or live stream:

  • Make sure you have a great host who can engage energetically but elegantly with attendees.
  • Working a Zoom room differs from engaging with donors in person, so be prepared to push people to have great conversations.
  • Again, think small. If it’s a large audience, divide them into breakout rooms. The host can move from session to session to make sure donors are interacting with each other.
  • A large component of the event needs to be live, and look for ways to make it interactive.


4. Using ChatGPT

We’re still in the early stages of Chat GPT, but it’s evolving immensely. Microsoft is rolling out plans to allow organizations to white-label it for their use. Companies will be able to embed it on their websites with their branding and voice.

Organizations of all kinds already use rudimentary forms of artificial intelligence (AI)-led chat for their websites. Based on early reviews, Chat GPT takes this to a whole new level.

So, while we wait to see how this plays out, there are some other ways nonprofits can use AI, such as writing first drafts of communications. It will likely produce something well-written, but it may not be accurate or in your organization’s voice. So, you’ll still need a human to oversee, edit, and revise.

And remember, nothing beats speaking to an actual person. Only a human can provide that connection to another human. Still, it’s a tool that nonprofits should keep an eye on.

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