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NEWS > Charity Sector News > Pan European Nonprofit Pulse Report 2024 reveals how nonprofits are facing greatest challenges head

Pan European Nonprofit Pulse Report 2024 reveals how nonprofits are facing greatest challenges head

The report illustrates that raising adequate funds remains a pivotal challenge for European nonprofits.
  • Economic crisis significantly impacted fundraising & service delivery
  • Raising funds, workload & staff well-being are among the most significant challenges
  • Key focuses include digital, channel diversification, collaboration, & supporter care
  • AI is a growing area of interest, offering both opportunities & challenges

Nonprofits across Europe are doing more with less amid a perfect storm of rising service demand, increasing workload, and squeezed income, according to the latest annual Nonprofit Pulse report by the European Fundraising Association in partnership with the UK’s Chartered Institute of Fundraising and Salesforce.

Workload, raising sufficient funds, and supporting staff and their wellbeing are the biggest challenges, with just 6% of respondents unaffected by the cost of living crisis and a fifth (20%) concerned about the future. Once again facing their challenges head-on, many nonprofits are responding by seizing the opportunities available – from advances in technology and AI to greater collaboration between organisations.

Based on a November 2023 survey of 671 senior representatives of nonprofit organisations from 20 nations across Europe, the report tracks change, examining the impact of the ongoing economic crisis and how nonprofits respond. For the first time, it includes a focus on how nonprofits use AI or plan to use it and their view on its opportunities and challenges. Also included are recommendations for getting started with AI and commentary on this and other key report findings from fundraising experts.

Key Findings

Easing of pressure but biggest challenges remain 2023’s survey suggests some easing of pressure from 2022 with percentages dropping in many areas, however:

  • 28% of those surveyed saw demand for services increase, while 28% saw income from donations fall, and 26% experienced a drop in supporter numbers
  • 20% had to use their reserves, while 28% let staff go, and workload and staff well-being were crucial issues for 37% and 26%, respectively.

Sector’s response to challenges

In response to the challenges, 2023 saw fundraising strategy remain unchanged for just 8% of nonprofits, with the vast majority responding through a variety of means:

  • Almost a quarter (23%) focused on further digital development and channel diversification.
  • Collaboration was mentioned for the first time since tracking began in 2015 as a top area of focus, with 22% working more with other nonprofits.

Fundraising: in-person activity reignites alongside further growth in digital

Reliance on digital continued to grow in 2023 for Europe’s nonprofits and their donors:

  • 19% acquired more supporters through social media, and 17% through online events.
  • The most popular channels for fundraising and engagement were social media (51% of respondents), website (47%), and email (46%). At the same time, in-person activity rose, with F2F being the fourth most popular channel (39%).

Focus on AI

Gauging nonprofits’ current sentiments on using AI, the research found:

  • 13% were excited and already using AI, and 22% ‘optimistic but cautious’, while 15% said they didn’t see their organisation using AI at all.
  • Key concerns for both Generative and Predictive AI were data security and privacy, loss of human expertise and job displacement.

Commenting on the findings, Charlotte Rydh, president of the European Fundraising Association (EFA) and secretary general of Giva Sverige in Sweden, says:

“There is immense value in working together and sharing expertise and experience. This is echoed in this year’s survey findings, which show rising collaboration between nonprofits. This pan-European view of the nonprofit sector, with its trends, challenges, and opportunities, helps us all by enabling individual nonprofits to benchmark and inform the work of national fundraising associations, networks like our own, and others supporting the sector.”

Rob Cope, executive director of membership & operations at the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, says:

“The nonprofit sector faces its biggest collective set of opportunities, challenges and risks in our lifetime. It’s a perfect storm of rising demand, growing workload, and squeezed income, which means that together, as a sector, we must answer how to do more with less. One of the most exciting areas of opportunity has to be in new technologies and AI, which is a critical lever of change that we cannot ignore.”

Lori Freeman, vice president & general manager of nonprofits, Salesforce, says:

“AI represents a tremendous opportunity for nonprofits of all sizes and will be the key to reducing workloads for overburdened staff, improving fundraising outcomes, accelerating mission impact, and so much more. However, successful adoption in the sector depends on using trusted AI to help nonprofits safely take advantage of their data. By embracing AI and educating employees on how to use it in a trusted and ethical way, nonprofits have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to modernise their operations and impact.”

The full report and findings can be downloaded for FREE Nonprofit Pulse 2024. A webinar panel discussion on the findings will follow in May, with details to be announced.

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