Imagining the Future of Fundraising Through Technology

Recently, I was asked to give a presentation discussing data in both the context of the world around us and the context of fundraising. As a part of that presentation, I had the opportunity to think about the direction the field is taking and how it might be impacted in the future by some of the new technologies and systems under development today. I invite you to take a moment and dream with me…

Scenario 1: Suppose you’re in your garden on a warm spring afternoon listening to your favorite NPR program when you suddenly remember you haven’t renewed your pledge from last year to the local public radio station:

Alexa donation

I see a future where making a donation will be as simple as speaking a command from the living room sofa.

Scenario 2: You are a major gift officer on a trip to Manhattan. Your scheduled appointment has just fallen through. You pull out your phone:

major gift officer

I see a future where gift officers will have actionable donor intelligence in their pockets.

Learn how EverTrue is making this happen for gift officers at Trinity University, Stonehill College, and the University at Buffalo

Scenario 3: One of your best donors is holding a dinner party. Conversation turns to the philanthropic interests of the assembled guests, providing the hostess with the perfect opportunity to access her donor portal to brag a little bit about the research her gifts are funding:

donor portal

I see a future where donors will have on-demand access to their impact stories.

Scenario 4: A former performing arts major is at home reviewing recent messages when their university’s holiday card flashes on the screen:

holiday card

I see a future where the IoT will provide many new avenues for reaching our alumni and donor bases.

Scenario 5: An alum has returned to campus for a quick trip down memory lane. They come to one of their favorite campus buildings:

building donation

I see a future where a donation can take place instantaneously—reinforcing the bond between people and places, their pasts, and the future.

Although there is no guarantee that any of these scenarios will be realized, one thing is certain: the future is bright with possibilities!


John Gough is an associate director of data analytics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where he is responsible for analytics within the Office of Advancement. When he’s not at work, he enjoys spending time with his family and pursuing his oil painting hobby. You can connect with John via LinkedIn.