01.12.22 4 min

Nonprofit trends for 2022

Data Axle's Richard Geiger shares what nonprofits can expect as we head into 2022 – and how they can prepare for the year ahead.

Richard Geiger

Richard Geiger

SVP, Strategy and Innovation

The nonprofit industry has been through many changes since 2020. 2020 brought along with it a shift from real-world events to digital events along with an increase in donors. 2021 saw nonprofits adapting to our new virtual normal while devising ways to connect with and maintain their new 2020 donors. 2022 is here and we expect it to bring even more changes for the nonprofit world. Our Richard Geiger shares what nonprofits can expect as we head into 2022 – and how they can prepare for the year ahead.

Five nonprofit industry trends for 2022:

1. U.S. postal service delivery slowdowns and price changes

The biggest 2022 trend for nonprofits is going to be working around post office challenges. Digital campaigns continue to play a critical role in omnichannel engagement, but direct mail is still a key component to the success of all fundraising campaigns. Nonprofits will need a strong, well-planned direct mail strategy to make sure mail campaigns reach their audience in a timely and cost-effective manner.

The mail slowdown started in October 2021 and is expected to remain slow throughout 2022. Nonprofits should calculate it could take up to 5 days for mail to reach their targets. Starting in July 2022, the USPS will be increasing First Class Mail letter prices two times per year. Mark your calendars – the next First Class Mail postage rate increase is scheduled for July 2022. You can also expect new fees for packages that are deemed ‘irregular’ sizes, increases in priority mail, priority mail express, first class package service, etc. [For a full list of all the changes, visit the Stamps.com blog]

2. Paper shortages and price increases

The lumber shortage is causing a ripple effect, from housing to furniture to paper, consumers have experienced price increases, shortages and delays in the lumber-based goods they need. This also affects direct mail marketing campaigns, as the price of cardstock and envelopes has risen – and they are in short supply. Boston and New York City both reported problems with their recent elections, due to envelope shortages.1 “There’s just not enough paper to go around,” said Chris Wells, executive vice president for DS Graphics/Universal Wilde, a print and mail company. “In 20 years, I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said.2

Carefully planning your direct mail campaigns and segmenting your audience will go a long way towards saving money while achieving optimal results in 2022. When designing creative, nonprofits need to take into account the new costs associated with their desired mailings in a way they haven’t in the past.

Microsegmentation is also important when it comes to managing the paper shortage. Save the most expensive mailers for your best audience. The more you know about your donors, the better you will be able to your prospect and customer models, segment your audience and make important decisions about creative and where to allocate your resources.

3. The COVID bubble burst

When the pandemic started, many thought nonprofits would be hard hit and that donations would dry up as COVID-19 took its toll on the economy. Yet, in our survey of over 1,200 charitable donors, we found that a majority (51%) said the amount they donate has not changed during the pandemic, and 28% said they are contributing more. As nonprofits worked to help those in need and keep their organizations’ initiatives going, many organizations saw a surprising surge of charitable giving and new donors. However, as we head into 2022, nonprofits should be prepared to see this bubble burst as life returns more or less to normal and people become less engaged with social causes that seemed urgent to them in 2020.

However, there’s no need to let those donors slip away. We have a few ideas on how to keep the channel of communication open and keep these donors engaged with your cause.

a. Welcome messages

Welcome messages provide a crucial touchpoint with new donors and help you share additional information about your initiatives to drive donors towards repeat giving. Welcome emails tend to have very high open rates, often 50% and above, making this a vital tool for making connections. Nonprofits can encourage engagement with a “light” ask (follow us on social media, sign a pledge, volunteer your time, etc.).

b. Newsletters

Forty-seven percent of Giving Tuesday donors surveyed said regular email interaction about their donation’s impact inspired them to give.3  Keeping your new donors up-to-date on your cause with email or direct mail newsletters helps you stay top of mind.

c. Follow-up ask

Research from the Fundraising Effectiveness Project found that only 19% of first-time donors give a second gift. But when a supporter donates for a second time, 63% will give again in the future, indicating how crucial it is to earn a second contribution from a new donor.4 Another report indicated that most donors make a second donation around the one-year anniversary of their first (often in response to a plea from the charity), but 19% of donors will make a second gift within 90 days of their first. An analysis of past giving among your own supporters can help you determine the best time and channel to reach out for that second contribution.

4. Shifting fundraising goals

What are your fundraising goals in 2022? Do they look the same as they did in 2021? Many nonprofits are seeing a shift in what they want to achieve with their campaigns. Some popular themes we are seeing are:

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Diversifying revenue by concentrating on additional omnichannel strategies (such as phone/text/digital/social) or focusing on midmarket, major, mega or planned giving programs; including new instruments like Donor Advised Funds revising major gifts or recurring gifts goals.
  • Increasing average one-time gift size
  • Acquiring new donors or reaching a new audience
  • Maximizing channel based on cost to serve (ie: understanding which channel to which constituent is going to get the biggest gift ROI through modeling and behavior

No matter your goals in 2022 – the key to getting out your messaging is going to consist of finding and balancing the right direct mail vs. digital mix. This can be achieved by knowing your audience well, where they spend their time, and how they want to engage with you – and then meeting them where they are with messaging that will resonate with them. We know it’s easier said than done.

5. Staffing shortages

2022 finds us in the midst of “The great resignation.” The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 20215 – and that number keeps growing. From early retirement to people striking out to follow their dreams – no industry has been left unscathed. The key to overcoming this in 2022? Finding reliable vendors that can serve as an extension of your team. Data Axle’s team of experts come directly from the nonprofit world and they know the industry inside and out. Your cause is our cause – and we are committed to helping you reach your goals in 2022.

Reach out today and learn more about how we help.

1 https://www.today.com/news/another-paper-shortage-latest-supply-disruptions-mean-rcna2002
2 https://commonwealthmagazine.org/economy/add-paper-to-the-list-of-things-in-short-supply/
3 https://www.nptechforgood.com/2020/09/23/22-statistics-about-givingtuesday-donors-worldwide/#:~:text=1)%20The%20estimated%20total%20of,will%20participate%20in%20GivingTuesday%202020
4 https://bloomerang.co/blog/5-things-that-break-my-fundraising-heart/
5 https://hbr.org/2021/09/who-is-driving-the-great-resignation

Richard Geiger

Thanks for reading

Written by Richard Geiger, SVP, Strategy and Innovation

Richard brings a wealth of experience and leadership in selling and delivering strategy, analytics, business process and technology to large complex nonprofit organizations.