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Nonprofit giving in America has been stuck at 2% of GDP for 45 years. What is causing this? Is it the tax code? Are we just hardwired to give 2%? How can we move the needle?



“If you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always got.” – W.L Bateman.


The Chasm

One of the biggest problems that will keep the current state of giving at 2% is the lack of innovation: the failure to adapt to technology and changing donor expectations within the nonprofit space. If you think about the past 5 years, technology companies like Amazon, Uber and Apple have been making consumers’ lives easier with innovative, streamlined digital experiences. While the rest of the world continues to see major advances, nonprofits are stuck in the status quo, just doing what they have always done. Way too many nonprofits are severely lagging with their strategies and systems. This technology gap is creating a big chasm between today’s donor and the organizations they’d like to support. It’s keeping us stuck.



Understanding Today’s Donors

In every walk of life — from finding new music, to picking a restaurant, to booking a vacation — consumers now have unsurpassed control over the experience. They dictate the terms and then tell the world how it went. They’ve come to expect a level of access, professionalism, and convenience. Especially millennials.

Today’s donors are no different. In fact, they’re the same people. And they expect the exact same level of convenience from the causes they support. If you haven’t made giving as effortless as it is to buy a song you heard on iTunes, then today’s donors will simply move on.


Closing the Chasm

Embracing technology and creating simpler, smoother digital giving experiences for donors are imperatives if we want to raise that 2% – and we all want to… so what is the key?


A Donor-Centric Approach

The old database-centric standard of crossing your fingers as you blast hundreds of impersonal emails or direct mail asking for contributions is outdated. Today’s donors are tech savvy. According to the most recent U.S. Mobile App Report from comScore, mobile is now the top digital platform, taking up a 60 percent share of online activity. In fact, more than half of the visits to your website will come from a smartphone or tablet over a desktop computer. Innovation is happening at a blinding speed with the rest of the world, but in 2016 many nonprofits are stuck living in the past, just plodding along using legacy fundraising tactics.

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Great Giving Experiences

A bad or difficult giving experience can potentially move your donors to abandon their effort to support your cause, even when it is something meaningful to them. Plus, they’ll be less likely to share your mission with their social networks if they believe it’s tedious and frustrating to make a donation. Instead, take advantage of the new digital tools available and create giving experiences that are streamlined, simple to use, and frictionless. A few easy to implement solutions include giving forms that pre-populate information based on geo-location, mobile responsive sites, and simple online event registration systems.


New Technology

We’ve seen nonprofits triple their average gift size just by updating the system by which they accept and encourage donations to a more modern, innovative platform.  It’s time to evolve your approach and let go of the old school mentality that is no longer working for you. Think mobile, think experience, think about how your donors want to interact with you. Think about getting your organization up to speed. Your donors are out there and they want to help – you don’t want to lose them at the finish line just because you didn’t have a way for them to easily donate online or with their mobile device. The nonprofit sector has to do better as a whole. The chasm can be closed and 2% raised if we embrace technology instead of avoiding it.



Ray Gary’s experience in launching, building and helping businesses succeed spans nearly 3 decades (though he doesn’t look a day over 28 years). Around the office, Ray is well known (and dreaded) as someone who wants the product to be “just perfect” – it might be what he calls a good time. Ray’s experience includes various leadership positions in technology companies and as President of the Venture Capital group of Koch Industries, the nation’s largest private company, where he oversaw numerous technology investments.