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Let’s face it: we’re in for another roller coaster year. We know that. What we don’t know is what the high and low points will be; what will trigger or suppress giving; what the political landscape will look like in a year—or tomorrow.

As an industry, we need to collaborate more than ever, sharing strategies and best practices, to help our progressive clients in this increasingly hostile and volatile political climate.

To that end, I reached out to some industry colleagues to find out what trends they’ll be watching in the sure-to-be bumpy year ahead, and here is their feedback:

The top trend that Gina VanderLoop (Founder and CEO of ROI Solutions), is watching in 2018 will be Artificial Intelligence (AI)—in particular, Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing.

Colin Bickley (Director, Strategy & Partnerships at Care 2), says he’s watching the developing cutting-edge mobile engagement strategies to acclimate to the ever-increasing shift from desktop to mobile, landline to mobile, direct mail to mobile.

Suzie McGuire (President of Names in the News), will be interested to see how Q4 2016 and Q1 2017 donors retain and continue giving, as we move towards a year of post-acquisition data on them, and back into election season. And will progressive and centrist organizations come out in a more aggressive way against Trump/Republican leaders in their acquisition mail copy?

Also, how will the economics of concentrated wealth (and how it’s accelerated under Trump) impact those donors who are interested in giving, but may not have the income to give larger-sized gifts? What techniques will organizations use to ensure they have a more robust and societally diverse pipeline?

Tim O’Malley (Strategic Client Partner, MogoARTS), says he’ll be watching data (collection, processing, application) this year, as well as Artificial Intelligence, and strategic goal setting (gross profit vs. net profit around acquisition/RT).

And finally, Polly Papsadore (Director of Marketing and Business Development, Production Management Group), is excited to see the resurgence of direct mail in the commercial world: e.g., online-based start-ups like meal kit companies, niche apparel stores, and subscription service providers—encouraging for nonprofits who rely on the mail.

One opportunity Polly will continue to watch (and PMG is testing) in 2018 is the USPS Informed Delivery service. Its subscribers see scans of their upcoming mail in their daily emails or dashboards, providing an added impression (and landing page link/call to action) for businesses or nonprofits with no extra effort required. The service has over seven million subscribers nationwide and continues to grow—we’ll see how this works as the USPS rolls it out in 2018.

As for me, I’m watching closely how nonprofits and consultants are quantifying impact for unproven or risky new tactics and techniques. Because we work for nonprofits, we must be highly accountable to budget and ROI and we have an ethical obligation to make sure there are clear justifications for expenditures on the shiny new things that might be flashes in the pan.

Lots to think about, watch, and potentially implement as 2018 unfolds!

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