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20 predictions for the future – how might the charity world have changed in 20 years?

By Joe Saxton form NFP Synergy

I’ve been thinking - what will world the world look like for charities 20 years from now? This blog is a write-up of a presentation we did for some of our clients, pulling together our work with over 150 charities in the last decade, our regular surveys of the public, politicians, donors and journalists, and my intuition. It is a summary of my predictions.


  1. Farewell to direct debits. The challenges of GDPR and new fundraising regulations on donor recruitment mean that direct debits will be a shadow of their former status as a fundraising powerhouse.
  2. Tin-rattling, cheques, door-to-doors, and cash collections will be a thing of the past. As cash disappears, the whole idea of giving ‘loose change’ becomes meaningless, so any fundraising based on these mechanisms becomes redundant.
  3. Young people’s giving will be transactional and social. We are already seeing how young people’s giving methods are much more centred around social lives and social media. Expect this trend to grow.
  4. Lotteries, events and major donors will be thriving; lotteries because people like the idea of getting something back from their giving, events because of their appealing social and lifestyle elements, and major donors because of a predicted rise in those who want to give their wealth away before they die (baby boomers).
  5. We are currently in a legacy feast with a cohort of rich and idealistic baby boomers approaching retirement and old age. 20 years from now, the baby boomer legacy feast will nearly be over… and then legacy famine looms as the following generation, who are less likely to have houses or good pensions, reach old age.
  6. People hardly notice how fundraising for hospices, PTAs, lifeboats and more is now part of supporting ‘public’ services. Charity fundraising to complement public service provision will be increasingly mainstream, with the need to top-up the public purse taken for granted.
  7. Put all these trends together and the prediction is that non-legacy donations will have dropped by at least 50%, and fundraising costs are unlikely to have decreased proportionately.

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