The trends that will drive charities in 2007!

I’m sticking my neck out with some of these (sort-of) predictions.

If I’m honest, I share Bertie’s view that next year, 2008, will be the real breakthrough year when charities get ’social’. This is partly because budgets have largely been fixed for activity this year.

Never mind, there will be plenty of elbow room to experiment and innovate in 2007.

As always, comments (especially additions to this list) and challenges (be nice) are positively encouraged!

  • 2007 will be the year of the widget. Charities will benefit from the downloadable fundraising widgets offered by Just giving (launched just before Christmas) and Bmycharity (on its way).
  • The desire from donors (especially major givers) for more involvement and information will intensify and the need for accountability will further erode the sacred cow of the general fund. Note: most charities will be dragged kicking and screaming down this road. Initiatives like the ImpACT Coalition seem more concerned about reputation management than championing transparency. This is disappointing.
  • Social entrepreneurs and venture philanthropists will have an even higher profile this year.
  • The page view is dead, long live, err… something else! Hmm… web metrics just do not cut it (and just when you’d got to grips with it!). But what should we be looking at now? In 2007, the sector needs to identify new measures of ‘engagement’ online. This work is urgent, especially as charities need to show accountability for everything they do. Engagement + accountability = effectiveness. Note: numerous conversations in recent months tell me that there’s a lot of head scratching going on around this one. Get in touch and maybe together we can figure something out.
  • A blended media approach will gain ground and charities will reach and engage stakeholders where, when, and how they want to be communicated with. This means greater cross-departmental collaboration.
  • More charity employees (and virtual volunteers) will identify with the roles of buzz director / community steward / social reporter. Charity managers will sit up and listen (and even start blogging). Note: I’m thinking of co-organising an open-space event for those championing social media tools (and change management) within their organisations.
  • Charities will get better at reporting their achievements and aggregated update reports via RSS feeds will become standard. Podcasts will become commonplace.
  • 2007 will provide some high-profile stunts and more cause-related avatars in Second Life, but remain a peripheral activity.
  • Some well-equipped charities will learn to use these tools for storytelling and weave user-generated content into their own content, thus giving stakeholders more of an authentic voice.
  • The distinction will become more apparent between those charities wishing to build hosted communities for supporters and activists and those who have accepted the inevitable loss of control of ‘their’ cause and become active in existing communities and social networks.
  • Furthermore, by the end of 2007, many charities will register that they need to slim down their websites, and create a more personalised, targeted, atomised (but consistent) presence on the web.
  • One or more of the popular social networking sites will tap into the desire for members to identify with a cause and create a “My Causes” tab.
  • We’ll end 2007 with some excellent case studies (I’ve high hopes for Red Nose Day in March), some disappointments and a great deal of learning in the process.
  • The novelty of ethical gifts will begin to tire by the end of the year (there are too many copycat catalogues out there).
  • Not really a prediction as the One Laptop Per Child project looks set to really happen this year. Interesting to read about the look and feel of the UI.