It’s time for my annual column about what nonprofits should expect in 2018. Since nonprofits don’t operate in a vacuum, I’ve poured over blogs and articles from the nonprofit, for-profit and government sectors. Here are my thoughts on trends impacting nonprofits this year and beyond.
In 2018, authenticity will be the name of the game in fundraising. Authenticity is the best way to build trust which is at the heart of philanthropy.
Savvy nonprofits will put an even greater emphasis on asking volunteers, donors, and board members to promote the mission among their peers and the public. While paid professional staff are critical to the success of any organization, non-paid champions are more likely to influence others to act. This means more requests will feature a testimonial from a client, donor or influential community member. More nonprofits will engage others in telling their story.
It will remain a struggle for small nonprofits to thrive. Nonprofits with a strong financial base and the ones actively taking steps to do so are more likely to grow. To support this effort, board members will become more up-to-speed on what’s happening in their industry and aware of what similar organizations are doing and why. More boards will have these discussions as part of board meetings to recognize an opportunity when it comes along and be poised to act.
Annual fundraising campaigns are always a challenge because they happen once a year, every year. To combat mission fatigue, more nonprofits will adopt a central theme for the year that permeates their communication and fundraising strategies. By giving their mission a fresh look, nonprofits will keep current givers giving and attract new ones.
Nonprofits will seek out diverse opinions, ideas and viewpoints. To help make better decisions, nonprofits will embrace the diversity of age, gender, ethnicity, social status, religious beliefs, and political views that exist among clients, staff, funders, volunteers, and donors. In the new year, diversity in all forms will continue to be critically important to help nonprofits be inclusive and remain relevant to diverse audiences.
I’ve been fascinated to learn the newest c-suite position in corporate America is the CLO: chief learning officer. For-profit businesses invest tremendous resources into re-training to maintain a highly qualified workforce. As customer habits and preferences change, companies must change to meet them.
For nonprofits, this means donors, funders, clients, and stakeholders are changing too. Effective delivery of services will require nonprofit leaders to invest in professional development of staff and board. Nonprofits who prioritize education will adapt to change quicker, more effectively, and remain viable.
Also on my list of trends is visibility. The idea that “what we do is so important, people will come to us” has always been flawed. In 2018, nonprofits will bring their mission, message, and brand to the public in more proactive ways. Being actively engaged in the community will become even more important and be driven by a robust communications program and outreach efforts.
When nonprofits reach out, they will recognize language matters. Rather than asking for a gift, nonprofits will be inviting donors to give. Rather than giving, requests will be about investing in a solution that changes lives. How nonprofits craft their message will be more important than ever.
It isn’t getting any easier to run a sustainable organization or raise money for a worthy cause. Savvy nonprofits will implement fewer fundraising strategies with more customization, personalization, and focus. This may require bigger investments in infrastructure including data management. Nonprofits who make these investments will be better positioned for greater fundraising success.
Finally, the business adage “it takes money to make money” applies equally to nonprofits. In 2018, more nonprofits will invest in themselves to ensure greater success. We hope these predictions are helpful and welcome your feedback.