TrueSense Marketing  ●  5/6/2019

Fundraising Trends That Could Change the Future for The Salvation Army



The Salvation Army enjoys some of the highest donor responsiveness and loyalty numbers that any nonprofit has ever experienced. Brand trust, local relevance, and unmatched stewardship inspire generations of supporters and help you meet the ever-increasing demands for your ministry.  When compared to other charities in the same sector, your key campaign metrics outperform the “market” consistently over the past 10 years — indicating that Salvation Army donors tend to be among the most loyal and generous.

Request your copy of our full research report on your Donors: “Who Supports The Salvation Army and Why?”


Despite your comparative stability, you face a number of serious challenges in the future.  Some of these are episodic, yet inevitably create tension.  Here’s the bad news:

  • Fluctuation in the U.S. stock market probably harmed Mid-Level and Major giving at the end of 2018.  The Richards Group has long correlated consumer confidence and generosity.  Now, more than ever, high-value donor stewardship will be critical to engage transformative donors.
  • Unpredictable natural disasters are increasing, and while they often lead to immediate generosity, they also compel donors to shift their giving away from general operating support.  Up to 50 percent of disaster revenue in some Divisions came from donors who supported general operating previously. 

    Check out these Three Myths About Salvation Army Disaster Fundraising.
  • Increased regulations around consumer protection and data security will continue, requiring extraordinary diligence and compliance.  Vermont and California may be harbingers of tougher privacy regulations, and the impact on nonprofits is unknown.
  • Acquisition of new donors is challenged.  The sheer number of nonprofits in the U.S. (over 1.5 million), combined with a shrinking donor universe, has made it harder than ever to acquire new donors.  Today, acquisition investment may take up to two years to return investment.  For most nonprofits, growth comes from increased donor value, not file growth.  Households support fewer organizations than before, but they give larger gifts to those that remain.  This presents another challenge: Large volumes of low- and mid-value donors are statistically necessary to feed planned giving, so shrinking volume is a growing concern to many nonprofits.

Despite these challenges, new and exciting opportunities abound.  With the right partner, you can leverage these opportunities.  Here’s the good news:

  • Overall, Americans were generous in 2018, fueled by a robust economy.  According to Giving USA, giving exceeded $400 billion in a single year for the first time, increasing 5.2 percent (3.0 percent adjusted for inflation) over the revised total of $389.64 contributed in 2016.
  • The impact of recurring gifts continues.  Online Sustainer revenue accounts for 12 percent of all revenue for most nonprofits. The Salvation Army has Sustainer programs that can, when effective, represent more than 20% of the individual/household revenue.
  • Boomers reach their peak giving years.  Even as the influence of new generations impact philanthropy, this enormous cohort is aging into the years when disposable income is most readily available, and ideas of legacy giving grow.  (This is good news!)
  • Connectivity creates more fundraising opportunity.  With the growth of “connected” donors, online donations, crowdfunding, and social giving are growing fast. #GivingTuesday saw a 50-percent increase in 2017 over 2016 contribution totals.  New e-payment and processing technologies — such as digital wallets like Google Wallet, Apple Pay, and Flint — have surpassed PayPal and Facebook.
  • Multichannel integration is essential for any organization.  Nearly half of millennials, Gen Xers, and boomers prefer to give solely through an organization’s website.  Google AdWords is by far the most commonly used SEM tool among health care marketers (75 percent).  People spend three times more time watching Facebook Live content than they do non-live video, and they drive six times as many interactions as regular videos.  Instagram doubled its user base in the past two years, with 500 million daily active users and 250 million active daily users on Instagram Stories.
  • Video accounted for 69 percent of all consumer Internet traffic this year alone, with impressive growth predicted over the next few years.  According to Cisco, video content will be responsible for 85 percent of all U.S. Internet traffic by 2019.  Video marketing delivers content that is personal, with a human touch.  It’s simple to digest, it can have true impact on the audience, and it is easy to promote across multiple digital channels.

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