Top 12 Trends and Predictions for 2019

Specialist consultants and coaches from Benefolk recently shared their predictions in Fundraising and Philanthropy Magazine (Dec/Jan edition). Check out what they see on the horizon.


Kate Buxton, Specialist Community Philanthropy Consultant
‘Community Philanthropy will shine bright in our Regional and Rural Communities’

In 2019 philanthropy will continue to spread its wings and fly further into regional Australia, fuelled by the desire of donors to be more actively engaged in their philanthropy, along with a growing realisation that giving agency and resources to local people, local organisations and communities, can shift the needle on our most entrenched problems. 

Community philanthropies – community foundations, local giving groups etc – are tapped into the zeitgeist; people don’t want to give money, they want to create impact.  Traditional philanthropy is more challenging in our regions and rural communities, where big donors are thinner on the ground. Community philanthropy changes this – it empowers EVERYONE to be a philanthropist.

Whilst community philanthropy does not equal small (think Silicon Valley Community Foundation), many of the world’s 1,800+ place-based foundations are small organisations. This flexible model works brilliantly at any scale, as Australia’s vibrant sector proves. The scene is set for community philanthropy to continue to grow and innovate in our regions.  


Darren Taylor, Specialist Brand Advisor
‘More organisations will realise the power of their brand’

I’m predicting that the lightbulb around ‘brand’ will switch on in a big way for many organisations in 2019, as more leaders realise the real meaning and value of brand, and that brand differentiation is critical now more than ever. There are going to be big leaps for leaders who realise that their brand is not their logo. It’s not their identity, or their reputation. That it’s so much more.

I predict we will see more organisations focus less on chasing the fundraising dollar and focus more on reviewing and strengthening their brands to make their hard-earned fundraising dollars work harder. By brand, I am talking about the ‘unifying narrative’ that is powerfully and consistently communicated at every opportunity, both internally and externally.

There will be a significant opportunity for switched-on leaders who champion the cause of ‘brand’ and who will benefit from taking stock to review, refine and align their brands to more effectively win the hearts and minds of their staff, donors and other stakeholders.


Julia Keady, CEO/Founder, Benefolk
‘Clusters, collaboration grants and collective effort will flourish’

It appears that any word starting with C is coming into its own: collectives, clusters, collaborations, co-working, collective impact, coaching, donor circles, capacity, collective strategy and many others including change-makers and game-changers.

‘Competitive clustering’ – where like groups or organisations work together in strategic ways – will continue to rise in 2019. Whether it’s driven by savvy leaders, or by necessity, I believe we will see more sharing of effort, resources, investment and spaces. Alongside this, I predict that we’ll see a handful of progressive grant-makers stepping up to provide ‘collaboration grants’ that support such efforts.

We will also see more organisations and businesses cluster together for collective impact and indeed collective strategy. Research is one easy area that we’re helping organisations pool resources (and reduce duplication), where the results are 80-90% applicable to each party.

Coaching and mentoring is going to play a big role in 2019, with more savvy boards and CEOs realising that capacity and capability can soar when leaders can spend PD budget on having personalised support.

Language that ‘inspires’ will become more prominent and we’ll see growth in the trend towards ‘social purpose’ and ‘social impact’, and a move away from deficit language such as ‘not-for-profit’. 


Renae Hanvin, Specialist Disaster Resilience & Community Relations Consultant
‘Australia will catch up to the disaster risk reduction movement’

The hard fact is our future is one with natural and man-made disasters like we have never experienced before. You can see it happening nearby in Indonesia where they have recently been hit not once or twice, but three times in as many weeks – with catastrophic consequences to life, property and livelihoods.

Giving has generally been prompted by incident response, because it usually takes a cyclone, bushfire or flood for donors to want to support disaster-impacted communities, yet the real need is beforehand.

Disaster resilient communities that are better prepared to survive future impacts by planning and mitigating potential vulnerabilities will be the ones who thrive in our future. 

Forward thinking philanthropists, social purpose and private sector leaders will enable Australia to catch up to the global disaster risk reduction movement – by supporting communities in the good times, to be ready for the bad.   


Linda Garnett and Sharon Dann, Specialist Partnership Advisors
‘Fewer partners, greater impact’

Have you ever spent the day grazing on snacks, only to wish you’d eaten a proper meal? That’s the trend we’re seeing, and expect will increase in 2019, from large corporates seeking community partners. It was highlighted in the Giving Australia 2016 report, that large businesses are “investing in fewer…partnerships to maximise social impact” and it’s definitely a trend we notice in our work.

We will continue to see a clear shift away from corporate giving in multiple small amounts, to a strategically selected small group of partners to achieve meaningful social impact. Organisations such as Unilever are identifying 4-5 key thematic areas that integrate with their core business and sought partners to help them deliver long term solutions. More organisations will follow this trend.

This will mean we will see more charities creating an alignment of values, assets and objectives to win a more valuable and truly transformational partnership. Rather than chasing a corporate’s community grant of $10,000, we believe we’ll see more charities positioning themselves for larger, strategically aligned and more sustainable partnerships that will create real social change. 


Deb Milligan, Specialist Creative Sector Consultant
‘Changes to how we see, and value the arts’

Arts funding has taken a hit with dramatic decreases in government funds available for small to medium organisations, and individual artists, combined with an increase in governmental pressure tied to that funding. Luckily the private sector is increasingly recognising the value of the arts and stepping in to provide critical support, as evidenced in a recent report from the Bureau of Communications & Arts Research. I expect 2019 is going to see growth in this area.
This flows from another trend that will continue, which is the ever-growing understanding of the value of creative and cultural activities across sectors and through all levels of society. Enhanced educational outcomes, social inclusion, creative recovery and neighbourhood regeneration are clear examples, and I predict more of our community and business leaders will grow this understanding.
At the same time, I predict we will see more understanding around the component elements of a thriving creative community and the environments that best support this, combined with an exploration into how we can foster the growth of healthy creative ecologies in our efforts to create a better society for all.


Liliana Sanelli, Event Fundraising Specialist
‘Connection will be more important than ever’

2019 will be the year where we will see more people trying to CONNECT more than ever before. Yes, we are in the digital age and think we are connected, however we are incredibly devoid of true human interaction. Events therefore become an important tactic for organisations, especially charities to interact and connect and benefit by building long lasting partnerships.

In 2019, we will see a number of major events collapse as they are no longer viable and have run their course. In their place, we will see organisations becoming more strategic about the purpose of their event and how it aligns to their broader organisational goals and reason they exist.

Organisations will take a niche targeted approach to events. They will take more time to understand WHO they want to connect with and what the best tactic will be. Trending will be events that are less slap-dash and more strategic. Think Global act GLOBAL. 


Julie Weldon, Specialist Communications Consultant
‘Genuine – the new authentic, plus a return to some old-school tactics’

While there is no doubt that online communication is here to stay, in 2019 I predict a return to more traditional face to face communication (virtual, or in person) and personalised hard-copy communications. In our agency, we’re already seeing organisations hosting more intimate events and roundtables.

People want to go deeper, have more satisfying conversations and truly understand different perspectives. This is all related to the search for more genuine engagement – what I call the new ‘authentic’. People still want organisations and individuals to be authentic - true, reliable and dependable - but there is an increasing desire for more genuine communication – honest, frank, open and sincere.

This will mean more stories told by those affected; more insight into what’s really happening; and more constructive conversations about what we need to do together to make the world a better place. Ultimately, it is only genuine communication that builds trusted relationships. 


Adam Peaston, Specialist Data and Analytics Advisor
‘Data and predictive analytics uptake will dramatically increase’

The data and analytics revolution has hit the social sector and is beginning to impact the way social sector leaders make decisions and deliver services.  Early adopting not-for-profits and social purpose businesses are working with public data, donor behaviour data and client data to predict and improve client outcomes, make smarter fundraising decisions and drive healthcare and education improvement for people in low income communities. 

In 2019, the use of data and predictive analytics will grow rapidly as access to next generation Data as a Service platforms will make foundational data resources accessible for people without technical skills to easily find, share and blend data so they can solve social problems together.

Organisations embracing the use of data and predictive analytics will get better outcomes and identify new innovations in service delivery.  Funders will prefer and seek service providers with sound evidence bases and strategies for data-driven continual improvement.


Annette Herschtal, Specialist Philanthropy Consultant and Change-maker Coach
'More multi-year funding and alignment to SDGs'

The plurality of philanthropy continues, reflective of its autonomy and diverse voices of influence. In 2019 we can expect to see innovative approaches gaining traction in Australia. For example, after many years of not-for-profits wishing for untied, multi-year funding, The Myer Foundation has included this in its new strategic plan.

Systems change and place-based that approaches which co-ordinate players around a single topic with a shared measurement system are also growing, perhaps in light of successful international examples (such as the Freedom Fund). I also expect we will also see more philanthropic organisations lining their activities up with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).


Sue Vittori Specialist Grant, Submission and Report Writer and Strategist
‘Smart data and people stories will be the stars of impact reporting’

The impact reporting horoscope for 2019 shows the stars are aligning for savvy social purpose organisations. Funders want objective, verifiable evidence of the return on their investments. They increasingly value transparency and accountability in community outcomes and impact reports.

At the same time, more affordable mechanisms for capturing results and analysing and reporting data are emerging. Cloud-based apps and tools offering real-time feedback and machine learning capability are transforming capability in this space. Data analysts are in tech heaven! Organisations with nimble systems and practices that support meaningful impact reporting will be ahead of the pack.

The smartest will be honing their objectives and measuring only the most relevant impact indicators using a lean data approach to deliver clear, focussed reports. They will be collaborating with complementary organisations to commission research and share and compare data.  And storytelling – giving a human face and voice to the numbers – will continue to resonate with decision makers in any sphere.


Ruth Jones, Specialist Philanthropy and Governance Consultant
'Greater recognition of peer relationships as key to building philanthropy'

Philanthropy is a surprisingly social activity. Or perhaps not so surprising. Spending time with people with whom we have something in common is fun. Learning together is usually more enjoyable than learning alone: expanding our understanding of issues can be exhilarating; sharing insights and new-found knowledge with friends, family and colleagues brings a new dimension to our lives. 

All this is something to bear in mind if your goal is to build philanthropy and increase giving.  Bringing people together with their peers to learn about the root causes of social issues builds social capital that delivers results. The form this education might take is important: a mix of experiential learning, mentoring and training works well. Sometimes it’s hard to be hopeful when you see the range and extent of the problems we face: it’s tempting to think it’s all too hard. 

Being part of a group that grasps the root causes and understands how we might counter these brings a sense of hope – a powerful motivation for giving.

Julia Keady
11 January 2019

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