Think back to Christmas when you were a kid. What did that look like? How did you celebrate?
How much of your Christmas shopping was done online?
How many relatives did you Skype with on Christmas morning?
How many friends send you Holiday wishes on Facebook or Twitter?
How many Christmas dinners were instagramed?
How many iPhones were wrapped and put under the tree?
How many e-appeals did you get from charity?
Like me, you probably answered: “none”.
Do you think, growing up, you could have imagined the kind of Christmas we have today? I certainly couldn’t. Whether the Christmases of your childhood happened 20, or 50 years ago, back then we couldn’t have conceived of what I mentioned above.
So I am not going to pretend to tell you what Christmas will look like in 2064. It’s impossible to predict the future, but there are some emerging trends I think we need to take note of:
The Rise of Wearable Tech:
Google glass, the Apple Watch, fit bits – these are just the beginning. Advances in nano technology will see greater integration of fashion and technology in the growing wearable tech industry. Just as the rise of the mobile device changed how we communicate, so too will this new wave of technology.
Big Data and Machine Learning:
Big data, simply put, means data from different sources and databases can be stored in one location and analysed. Machine learning means computers are getting better at thinking critically about that data and making sophisticated theories and recommendations. This allows for the creation of incredibly customized and personalized communications for thousands of people at once. Imagine websites that evolve and adapt based on who was using it. That’s where this trend is taking us.
Change, and the rate at which it happens, will continue to accelerate. And as that happens, the amount of time we spend interacting with technology will increase. The two trends mentioned above will mean we can carry technology around with us, on our bodies, on our clothes, on our faces, all the time – collecting huge amounts of real time information which will be collected and analyzed in ways we never thought possible. Charities who are smart, and pay attention to things like data and testing will have more information at their disposal than ever before.
I suspect in 25 years, the internet as we know it will be fundamentally different. I don’t think Facebook and Twitter will be around anymore. New platforms for commutation will come and go – and we as non-profits will need to find ways to be adaptable and adjust. The need to break down silos and have integrated multi-channel communications will be increasingly important.
So, am I telling you that the future is digital? Well, not quite.
Let’s go back to your childhood Christmas, or even the Christmas of your parents and grandparents.
Did they give gifts to loved ones and friends?
Of course they did. And I am sure those things aren’t going away any time soon.
I am not sure what the future will bring – but I am certain the importance of relationships will still be key. Donor retention will still matter, and so will our donor’s desire to feel like they are making a difference in the world.
The future in many ways belongs to those who can be adaptable enough to change with new technologies while mastering the basics of good fundraising that have been around for hundreds of years.
So, what do you think Christmas Future will bring?
P.S. Another change we need to be aware of is that more and more not all of your donors will celebrate Christmas. Think about all of the effort we put into Christmas greetings and messages – how much time do you focus on Lunar New Year? Diwali? Hanukkah? If you want to embrace diversity and donors from other cultures, it’s time to start thinking beyond the fat man in the red suit.