The new year is likely to bring new trends which will affect the voluntary sector. Here are five things charities should be doing in 2012.

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2011 hasn’t been the greatest year for charities. Funding cuts have hit many charities hard, and even forced some to close. For many it’s been a year to forget, but as the curtain comes to a close on 2011 it’s time to look to the year ahead.

We spoke to The Media Trust in November 2011 about the trends charities could expect to look out for in 2012. Skip the video to read more about:

Cost-cutting

Sadly, the cuts seen in 2011 aren’t going to be the last to hit charities. In fact, NCVO estimate that by 2015/16 the voluntary sector will lose £911 million in public funding. More cuts are inevitable so 2012 needs to be a year where charities start cutting costs and transitions more of their activities online.

This is exactly what the football charity Street League has done, and they’ve managed to save more than £50,000 a year. A major part of this saving has been on printing costs. By creating online Impact Reports instead of printing them out, they have managed to save £15,000. Not only are online annual reports a financial benefit but, as we’ve covered before, they can be a lot more functional and engaging than their printed counterparts.

Mobile giving

Mobile phones have become ubiquitous with modern day life. 91% of adults in the UK use one on a regular basis. Nowadays however, mobiles are more than just phones. They can send texts, browse the internet and play games, to name but a few. Charities are beginning to see the benefit of targeting such a platform and innovative new approaches are being created every day. One such approach began to take off in 2011 – donation by text. There was a 12% increase in people giving by text from 2010 to 2011. The event that took advantage of text messaging the most was Red Nose Day, which managed to raised over £15 million by text messages alone.

New ways of giving

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Innovation is always at its greatest during hardship. Which means that despite funding cuts, progressive and forward thinking charities will survive and even thrive. New innovative ways to donate like ATM giving are appearing at a rapid rate. Pennies is a good example; an organisation that makes it easy for users to donate a couple of pence to charity when they buy something with a debit card, credit card or electronically.

Another organisation bringing innovation to donation is Give as you Live. They have partnered up with over 1,500 retailers who will donate money to the charity of your choice if you purchase something from their store. Predicting where the next great innovation will come from and in what form it’ll be in is near impossible, but it’s a certainty that it will arrive sometime in 2012.

Gamification

Like it or not, video games have become a major part of our society. In 2011, Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 broke the record for the largest entertainment launch of all time, selling 6.5 million copies and earning £255 million in its first 24 hours on sale. This success was no accident and as we’ve said before, there are some great lessons we can learn from video games.

In the next year, you’ll start seeing more websites taking these lessons on-board and using points, levelling systems and leader boards to create a greater sense of engagement for its users. There’s a good reason for this as well – to put it simply, it works. Small pedestrian charity Living Streets used games psychology techniques during their Walk to Week campaign and managed to entice over 8,000 users who collectively walked a distance greater than three times that of the world’s equator.

So what should I do about all this?

Although all these trends have been seen to some degree in the past, 2012 looks like the year when they will really take off. What are you doing to take advantage of them, and to make 2012 a great year for your charity?

We’re putting on a whole year’s worth of free training, and publishing practical how-to guides and videos on our blog. If you don’t want to miss out, you should sign up for our monthly newsletter now.

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