Fundraising Europe interviews Siri Nodland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Fundraising Association (Norges Innsamlingsråd) about the challenge to grow giving in Norway without losing touch with the nation’s supporters.
[Fundraising Europe] What is it that’s changing in the Norwegian fundraising environment?
[Siri Nodland] There’s a lot of good news to tell about fundraising and giving in Norway. People here are very interested in charitable causes, and donations numbers have continued to rise in recent years. In fact, Deloitte reports that the growth rate for giving is higher than the increase in economic growth.
Although there’s still a large amount of people who prefer to give in response to direct mail campaigns, supporters have embraced new opportunities to give online and through social media.
Digital tools tend to go down well here and Facebook Donate, in particular, has really taken off. It’s an extremely easy way to give and, despite the fact that we’re such a small country with only 5.5 million people, Facebook now tells us that we’re in the top ten nations making most use of it. But we are also quite anxious to understand how Facebook Donate is changing the market.
Why is that?
Technology is making it easier for people to give and for the public to fundraise. Norwegians are quick to embrace new giving channels and technological solutions, which can be great for charities. But, when people give a donation on Facebook, charities don’t necessarily know who’s given or have access to donors’ contact information. This means they can’t stay in touch with supporters and build a relationship with them.
Similarly, we have a payment app called Vipps – like Swish in Sweden – which is growing rapidly. The public can use it to pay for anything, including their donations, but the system doesn’t give charities any information about who is giving. Again, we can’t say thank you or establish a relationship with supporters and this is a real worry for the sector.
What does it mean for charities in Norway?
The concern is that we may be in danger of losing touch with supporters; that we need to reach out and ask for donations again and again, without the ability to build and nurture those supporter relationships.
We often encourage our members to use SMS, because it gives organisations access to information about who has donated and the opportunity to build relationships.
We were concerned that regular giving figures might fall but, for now at least, we’re still seeing some growth in the amount given. That said, we know that there is a decline in the number of members and donors, and the younger generation clearly shows signs of wanting to shop around for their giving. So, this is an area that we need to monitor carefully.
To add to all this, corporate sponsorships and government funding are going down, and it’s become an increasingly competitive market, with more charities asking for funds. We’ve seen quite a lot of new foundations emerge over the past decade, paying out around 200 million kroner a year. They can donate to certain causes, but not to all and this means that the sector has become much less even than it used to be.
With this in mind, what are you focusing on at Norges Innsamlingsrad now?
We are working closely with all our members to help them ensure that their fundraising is always respectful and demonstrates best practice. We’ve made an e-learning platform and use this to address not only the practicalities of what to do, but ethical dilemmas: what not to do. We’re also focusing quite heavily on what can be done to help charities report on impact in a more standardised way, avoiding overly simplified comparisons of efficiency on the basis of administration costs. There’s been some really interesting work in this area from Deloitte, social entrepreneurs and charities alike, and we’re hoping to build on that over the coming year.
Of course, we’ve just had Giving Tuesday and that’s become a major annual focus of activity for us here now, which we hope will continue to be a great opportunity to communicate the importance of supporting charities’ work. It took ten years for Black Friday to catch on over here and we’re now in our third year for Giving Tuesday, so we expect it will take a few more years before everyone catches on, but each year it gets bigger and bigger.
Also, we are now in our third year of working collectively to grow legacy giving. Each year, 75 billion kroner is passed from one generation to another, with just 5 per cent donated to charity. Less than 1 per cent of people leave a gift when they die. Most don’t even write a Will. So, we believe that there’s huge potential for legacy giving.
It’s an exciting time for fundraisers in Norway, with huge opportunities for growth, but we need to ensure that we find ways to stay close to our supporters, while continuing to make it as easy as possible for them to support the causes they care about.
About Siri Nodland
Siri Nodland is Secretary General of Norges Innsamlingsråd (the Norwegian Fundraising Association), an arena for professional fundraising that works to influence policy for non–governmental organisations engaged in fundraising. Norges Innsamlingsråd represents the main bulk of non-profit, non-governmental and humanitarian organisations in the Norwegian fundraising market.