How has fundraising changed over the last 20 years?

04 March 2020
Digital MediaStrategyDigital IntegrationInnovation
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From the rise of social media and online donations, to a larger reliance on flexible workers – CharityJob's Stephanie Dotto takes a look at how fundraising roles have evolved over the last 20 years.

2020 seems like a monumental year – it’s been two decades since the turn of the millennium, and the world as we know it has taken leaps and bounds in the realms of technology and connectivity. So it’s no wonder that fundraising, as a profession and as a sector, has changed so much in the past twenty years. We no longer have to spend hours stuffing flyers into letterboxes and making appeals door-to-door. Instead, we have instant connectivity, and can receive donations from literally anywhere in matters of seconds—how cool is that?

As charity recruitment specialists, we’ve seen new roles pop up, salaries shift and fundraising jobs become less and less dependent on working in a physical office space. And with our own twenty-year anniversary running CharityJob drawing closer, we thought this would be the best time to stop and reflect on how fundraising roles have evolved and consider where they might be going next. Let’s take a closer look.

A shift into the digital realm

The noughties were certainly a time of innovation. In 2003, over half of UK households had internet access, and by 2017 95% of the population was online. This was revolutionary for non-profits because it provided a new space for charities to reach out to their donor base. Email became a low-cost way to distribute appeals and share news. But that meant that fundraisers suddenly had to upskill to keep on top of email trends and best practice.

When social media broke onto the scene in 2004, charities were afforded new and innovative means of building relationships, sharing content and raising funds in a virtual space. That meant they could reach more donors, faster.

And that’s where more digital fundraising roles became fundamental. Looking back at the jobs posted on CharityJob in the past two decades, the term ‘digital’ didn’t really start appearing in job titles until roughly 2009, with a massive growth period between 2014 –2018. In 2019, the number of fundraising jobs posted on CharityJob that required some form of digital know-how was up 8.4% on the previous year. In 2018, that was up 20% on the year before it.

Living in a mobile-first world

Think about the last time you went a whole day without using your mobile – it’s not easy to pinpoint, is it? That’s because we’re a mobile-driven society. Back in 2015, mobile web traffic surpassed desktop for the first time. Today, up to 70% of web traffic happens on a smartphone, with the average user spending more than five hours a day on their mobile.

When Steve Jobs introduced the first iPhone back in 2007, he ushered in a new era of usability and connectivity. Suddenly, it was possible to donate to a charity form anywhere since your phone allowed you constant internet access. That allowed fundraisers to start exploring new ways of sourcing donations via text messages and automation. Now we can utilise social media, app technology and video content to inspire more people to donate across dozens of different platforms all at their fingertips.

The age of flexible working

But the rise of digital technology didn’t just make it easier for us to source donations, it meant that we could work more flexibly. With charities ranging in size and structure, the option to allow fundraisers to work remotely meant less money spent on office space and more money to put towards the cause.

And that, in turn, allowed charities to recruit from a wider pool of people. Twenty years ago, having responsibilities that made it hard to work typical 9-to-5 job hours could have cost you the role. But as remote and flexible working are becoming so common place, you’re more likely to find fundraising jobs that allow you to work from home. In the past three years alone, the number of home-based fundraising jobs posted on CharityJob increased by nearly 230%.

And based on our data, we believe that the number of remote fundraising roles will continue to rise at a steady rate of 7% every year.

What's next for fundraisers?

There’s no question that the fundraising sector is changing, so it’s important to ensure you’re not only aware of where it’s headed, but skilled up enough to keep up with the latest trends.

We think that digital is going to continue to be an important part of fundraising. And with more research claiming that the digital skills gap needs to be addressed, there’s no better time than now to start honing your digital know how.

Stephanie Dotto
Stephanie Dotto
Content and SEO Lead at CharityJob
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