For our final seminar of the day on the 9th of July, our mentees were treated to a session fresh from the Institute of Fundraising National Convention – 2029: Business as Usual. Presented by Think Consultancy’s unstoppable Michelle Chambers and Cancer Research UK’s ineffable Frances Milner, we were whistled through ten key differences between the world we fundraise in now and where we’ll be in 2029. Three months on, we’ve picked out the three that stuck with us the most:
Different Spectrum of Causes
Perhaps the least obvious of the ten changes presented was the impact technology will have on the causes we as a world are paying attention to. We can watch this unfold in 2019 – the rise of mental health and dementia as causes in and of themselves has been huge in the last few years – but extrapolating this to 2029 completely changes which charities we expect to see in the limelight. With cancer largely cured, climate change and loneliness will become critical causes, commanding the majority of the public’s attention. Other causes will continue to thrive, but the top 10 will change, as will the ways we fundraise for them.
Data will be all-encompassing
By 2029, 90% of the world will have broadband – data will be far more granular and we will be expected to tailor our messaging to exact individuals rather than to demographics. The world of A/B testing will be behind us – we will be using AI and data insight to send up to thousands of variants of the same message to different supporters, phrasing it in ways that they prefer us to.
We are already reaching a stage where AI is able to plan donor journeys in the form of Boodle AI, and by 2029 the best fundraising teams will take full advantage of living in a “blended world” – using computers to plan the approach before their humans make the face to face ask.
Human connectivity may be a USP
We’re already seeing the growth of chat bots within fundraising – CR UK are testing chat bots for event registration and the NSPCC have tapped into the use of Alexa as a tool for giving – but by 2029 what we use AI for and how we make the most of our human work force may define us as a sector.
With AI havin g passed the Turing Test and customer service bots being largely indistinguishable from humans in their responses, actual human to human interaction may become a unique selling point of charities – fundraisers already demonstrate some of the best interpersonal skills of the professional world, and this will only become more important with each passing year. By 2024, “customer service people will no longer be needed”, but 83% of people will still want them – how charities respond to this challenge will largely define how they interact with the world by 2029.
Having run through these changes, Michelle and Frances left our mentees with two final bits of advice for the day: to spot trends wherever possible, and to collaborate to keep on top of them. So much of fundraising is a collaboration, and we couldn’t be more grateful for how they demonstrated that throughout their presentation.
Many thanks to Andy King for reporting on the seminar day and writing this blog for us – it’s the second in a series of three from Andy on the Tony Elischer Foundation summer seminars which all mentees on our programme are invited to.
If you would like to be involved in the programme and learn from our brilliant mentors, think about applying to join the next programme. See www.tonyelischerfoundation.org for more details.