As they enter the third decade of the twenty-first century, nonprofit organizations find themselves at a crossroads. On one hand, challenges to charitable fundraising are greater than ever.
Even as the stock market is on the rise, many Americans are feeling economically insecure. Email and texting have provided improved means of outreach to potential donors, yet these platforms also create opportunities for spam and scammers to fill inboxes and erode the trust of charitable givers. And new technologies allow organizations to identify individuals who may be sympathetic to their cause; however, they must break through ever-increasing demands on people’s time and attention. Nonprofit trends suggest that the future of nonprofits will depend on the ability to adapt.
In order to maintain and expand their donor lists, organizations should be aware of the most pressing nonprofit trends. Here are five nonprofit sector trends that nonprofit leaders should be looking at to move forward into the next century.
Nonprofit organizations have an amazing range of tools at their disposal to locate potential donors, solicit donations, receive donations, track the success of individual campaigns, and maintain donor contacts. This sort of data mining will be crucial to the future of nonprofits.
Organizations can use software to mine their databases to determine giving patterns, including amounts donated, time of year donations are made, and the types of campaigns each donor is typically responsive to. These prospective donors can then be micro-targeted with appeals for their favorite programs. Nonprofit trends overwhelmingly suggest that campaign-based giving will play a key role in the future.
In addition, make sure your communications are mobile-phone friendly. Utilize the capabilities of mass email platforms to customize newsletters, appeals, annual reports, and fundraising operations can encourage the public to download apps that provide updates and information on the nonprofit operation and the ability to donate money directly through the platform. This ease of transaction encourages multiple donations per year.
Transparency | Cyber-Security
Repeated donors to an organization may well be happy to receive, and generally open, emails from nonprofit organizations they support. However, it is imperative that nonprofits recognize that they must demonstrate transparency and security (particularly cybersecurity) in all aspects of their fundraising operations. Suspicion about the integrity of organizations is one of the most troubling nonprofit trends.
Through no fault of their own, reputable nonprofits are operating in an age of public skepticism, motivated by a constant bombardment of shady, predatory communications. The future of nonprofits will require a commitment by nonprofit organizations to transparent bookkeeping, and they must commit to state-of-the-art cybersecurity protection in order to forestall unnecessarily negative scrutiny from the media and the public at large.
In addition, all board members, officeholders, and employees should be named on the website. And, most importantly, the percentage of donations that are directed to the organization’s core mission, as opposed to overhead and operations. Nonprofit trends suggest that, on average, a charity should expect to pay 11 cents for every dollar it raises.
This operational transparency should be accompanied by a significant amount of content on the organization’s website outlining its cybersecurity precautions and its policies on donor list security.
Diversity in Leadership | Nonpartisan Practices
This point should be obvious to anyone who owns a television. In the midst of a hundred-year pandemic, millions of Americans turned out to register their support for racial equality. Among the results was a spontaneous reevaluation by thousands of American corporations and nonprofit organizations that they have lagged behind in the important mission of creating and fostering a diverse workplace.
These nonprofit trends suggest challenges for nonprofit organizations because, in general, individuals who work for charitable organizations are socially aware. However, the majority of leadership in leading nonprofits have demographically mirrored America’s corporate boardrooms over the last fifty years. It is important to recall that people who donate to charities favor inclusion and diversity, which makes a commitment to diversity in hiring not only good policy but good practice.
Additionally, organizations must be scrupulous to not align themselves with either political party. Any apparent bias will set the internet abuzz with threats of boycotts. However, nonprofits should be aware of the election calendar for a range of reasons, not least that there has been a lot of recent reporting on what nonprofits are calling the “election effect,” which refers to a boost that some organizations experience in conjunction with the election season.
Corporate Donations | Corporate Volunteerism
When discussing the demographics of the donor class, we must take time to recognize a significant source of charitable giving which is through corporate donations and significant charitable donations generated by internal campaigns within corporations. In addition, a large percentage of employees of American corporations are seeking opportunities to make a difference in their communities.
Conclusion | Storytelling
Nonprofits are learning more and more that storytelling drives fundraising, whether it be the story of why an organization came into being and the importance of its mission or the story of an individual, family, or group who has been helped by services provided by the organization.
Ironically, the technological advancements that demand so much of our attention are often well-suited to deliver these stories to the people who are most receptive to hearing them. And, as trends in individual volunteering and donations within corporations suggest, Americans are more eager than ever to help people in need.
Here at CharityNet USA, we can help you navigate ins and outs of starting and running a nonprofit organization, with one goal: to help you thrive through thick and thin, no matter what the trend forecast may be for your sector. Let us be your partner so you can focus on what really matters. Get in touch with us today to get started.