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  • Jessica Chen

Three key challenges facing the Australian Not-for-profit sector

By Charan Naidoo

Bob Dylan said (read: sang) it best: ‘the times, they are a-changin’.

In our rapidly changing society, Australian for-profits are faced with unprecedented challenges, from digital to demographic. The same applies to Australian Not-for-profits (NFP’s).

Here are three key challenges that Australian NFP’s need to watch out for and three possible solutions:

1. Digital Disruption

Digital disruption and technological innovation are creating new opportunities for NFP’s

to effectively deliver on their missions. According to the 2018 Digital Technology in the

Not-for-profit Sector Report, organisations that use digital technologies, such as social

media marketing, are better positioned to respond to new challenges. They have better

control over their funding sources and can more effectively communicate with key

stakeholders, including donors.


Don’t fight the change- adapt! New digital marketing tools can improve targeted

engagement with desired audiences and deliver new growth opportunities for your NFP.

For example, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), a digital marketing tool, can make it

easier for prospective donors to find your website, boosting website traffic.

2. Financial Transparency

A 2014 Consultation Report from the Department of Social Services cited financial

transparency as ‘essential to maintaining public confidence in the sector’. The

Australian Communities 2020 Report reveals that the sector has room for improvement,

with less a third of Australians interviewed reporting that they are extremely/very

satisfied with the level of financial transparency in the NFP sector. Financial

transparency can yield more donations. In a study conducted last year by researchers

from Villanova University and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, transparent NFP’s

received 53 per cent more in donations!


Share your financials with your stakeholders. For example, present an overview of your

financials to your staff, including high-level metrics like net revenue generated from your

last event. When senior staff are more transparent about their numbers, this benefits

other staff who will feel more accountable for their own (smaller) budgets. As the study

conducted by researchers from Villanova University and the University of

Wisconsin-Milwaukee demonstrated, sharing detailed financial reports from your NFP

with donors can help boost donations.

3. Engagement with the Next Generation

NFP’s must adapt to the priorities and preferences of the next generation of donors.

Next-gen donors prefer more engaged philanthropy, a notable departure from the

narrow chequebook philanthropy of their parents and grandparents. Consequently,

many next-gen donors are often just as willing to give their time as they are willing to

give their money.


A multi-channel engagement strategy is one promising solution. This may involve

combining traditional engagement methods for older donors (e.g. mail) with digital

communication to connect with next-gen donors (e.g. social media). According to Pro

bono Australia, this strategy could grow your donor base without compromising

engagement with your existing donors. 180 Degrees Consulting recently worked with a

not-for-profit to implement tailored donor strategies for high-income donors and socially

conscious youth. This significantly boosted engagement with these audiences.

180 Degrees Consulting provides high-quality consulting services to help our clients not

merely respond to these new challenges but thrive.

We encourage you to contact us if your NFP would benefit from our pro bono consulting



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