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Donor Participation Project

Nonprofit Fundraising Innovator Shares Insights on Trends and Partnerships

Juan Mones, Head of Innovation at UNICEF, shared his insights on key trends affecting nonprofit fundraising and how organizations can tap new funding sources through partnerships.

Donors today want to be “protagonists and change agents” in solving problems they care about, not just “wallets.” They expect nonprofits to equip them with knowledge and tools to drive change. Donors are also increasingly committed to causes, not specific organizations. “It doesn’t really matter to stay longer in an organization. It matters to be there where the need is,” Mones said.

These trends demand that nonprofits provide more evidence of their impact and mission-focused “value exchange propositions” to supporters. For individual donors, delivering personalized experiences and learning about their expectations is key. For corporations and foundations, connecting work to priorities like the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is critical.

To uncover new funding sources, Mones recommends nonprofits look beyond their current fundraising models.

“There are innovation opportunities in both incremental innovation…and in new models,” he said. The key is finding the “sweet spot” between mission, skills, audience needs, and funding opportunities.

Partnerships are integral to innovation.

According to Mones, the most successful nonprofit innovations are “never…an effort of the organization” alone but the result of partnerships. Nonprofits should learn from the private sector, then look for partners with expertise in business models they want to replicate. The key is finding a “win-win” that addresses partners’ priorities as well.

For example, UNICEF Colombia partnered with a bank conducting a telemarketing campaign offering to activate unused credit cards if customers set up monthly UNICEF donations. This led to 50,000 new donors in six months.

Overall, Mones’ advice is for nonprofits to keep innovating, focus on value and impact, build partnerships, and tap new funding models and sources—or risk struggling with a shrinking pool of support. The challenges are real but so are the opportunities. Nonprofits that can demonstrate their vital role in addressing causes donors care about will be best positioned to succeed.

View the full recording of this session in our Resource Library.

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