The Non-Predictive, Un-Trend Post for 2014

nrm2014
What will 2014 mean for nonprofits?

 

A perfect tweet to read today. It captures the exact reason why my post on nonprofit trends for 2014 has languished in USB limbo for over 2 weeks: there’s nothing new there.

So, rather than bore us all with a rehash of nonprofit issues and their related buzzwords, I’d rather share a few areas I’ll still be watching in 2014 from the experts who write about them:

Mobile. Yes, again.  Again and always. And by now nonprofits should have integrated mobile technology (or at least seriously discussed the logistics of doing so) into their daily operations/service delivery.

Take care of your Boomers. They are still the largest and most varied group of givers. According to Blackbaud, Boomers prioritize local social service organizations and places of worship for their donations and give through multiple channels.  Carolyn Appleton sees this group as continuing to lead in their philanthropic roles in2014, including in the area of planned giving. Hint hint, planned giving has seen an increase in mobile activity.

Data, Privacy and Transparency. Nearly anything Lucy Bernholz writes is among the best you will find on the topic.   Interested in predictions for 2014? Start here.

Although not exclusively a nonprofit issue, Hack your (Professional) Lack. Sitting in a few of the sessions at Pittsburgh Podcamp 8, I realized that I had been so busy connecting with potential  clients and starting new projects in 2012 – 2013 that I had neglected to keep up with the new apps, products, and basic shortcuts that might make running my own shop easier.  I’ll be sure to make the time for my own professional development going forward, absent my go-to responses that it’s “a full-time staff of me, myself and I” *grimace* or “blah, blah, work-family boundarieeees” and every other excuse in the bucket.

What are your predictions for nonprofits in 2014?  What lack might you hack this year? 

 

 

Photo Credit: M. Puzzanchera (Own Work) (CC By-NC-ND 3.0)

Nonprofit New Year’s Resolutions – What is Holding You Back?

We are already a week into the New Year and I cannot help but wonder how many personal resolutions have already been disregarded, if not outright discarded, or as I prefer frame it – tweaked into something more … manageable.  We all have big dreams on January 1, but to paraphrase Ms. Grant, nothing short of payment in perspiration is going to turn intention into reality.  Let’s just face it, evidence suggests that our resolutions are more likely to fall by the wayside than be attained.  Nothing horrible will happen when day #364 arrives and you never did register for that marathon or crack that volume of Proust, but when your organization is the one in desperate need of a “lifestyle change” how do you ensure that the change sticks?

There are at least three major problem areas nonprofits may need to reevaluate for 2013:

Money.

This year will be even more challenging on the funding front for any nonprofit that hopes spending cuts and words of austerity were just a passing storm.  This is an excellent opportunity to directly confront departmental or organizational fears that keep you hanging on to events that are no longer profitable and deferring serious talks about diversifying methods of giving and ditching your two-decade-old donor profile.  Be creative.  Be bold. The time for wishing things were different is over – 2013 is the year to revamp and revitalize your fundraising strategy and Beth Kanter has an excellent post on how to start thinking about doing just that.

 

Message.

The ability to meaningfully communicate why your nonprofit does what it does uniquely and effectively is key to successful messaging.  Solid content and consistent promotion of your organization indicates a good level of fitness, but engagement is what will take you to the next level.  The goal of storytelling, posting, and other social media activities is to compel your audience to action. This requires genuine engagement. Who are you talking to online?

I agree with Debra Askanase – 2013 is going to take social media to a whole new level in nonprofit communication, marketing, and even operations. If you are not doing more than dabbling in it (as in the requisite accounts and an intern as sole content curator/poster) you have whip your social media muscles into shape! Check out Debra’s post on nonprofit technology for plenty of workout material.

 

Making it Happen.

You could have the most knowledgeable staff working for the most dynamic Executive Director but your nonprofit is going to keep spinning its wheels if the Board is more impediment than inspiration. Board performance is a sensitive issue, but in this challenging climate it is one that can no longer be ignored with a “boards will be boards” attitude.  Challenge your board to explore their capability as a group and move beyond what can be accomplished around the big table to how they can actively help your nonprofit get closer to your organizational vision by December 31.   A helpful tool to begin this conversation is Elephants in the Boardroom: A Framework for Discussing Board Effectiveness Issues from the Fieldstone Alliance.

 

What is your nonprofit-related New Year’s resolution? 

Millennials Give – Are You Making it Harder for Them to Give to You?

The 2012 Millennial Impact Report,  looks at the preferences and behaviors of young professionals ages 20-35, and paints a picture of a highly connected, service-minded cohort that can be moved in a moment to share both their time and treasure.

Highlights from the report are displayed in this infographic, and include,

  • 75 percent of respondents made a monetary donation to a nonprofit organization in 2011, 15 percent of those gifts were of $500 or more
  • The top 3 ways Millennials prefer to get information from nonprofits:  Website – 65 percent, Social media – 55 percent, E-newsletters – 47 percent
  • 63 percent of respondents volunteered for a nonprofit  in 2011, and 41 percent indicated that they plan to do the same in 2012

Read more about Millennials, including what they feel is the most important information a nonprofit can give them and how they really use their smartphones in the executive summary or the full report, both available at The Millenial Impact website.

A major takeaway from the report is that Millennials claim to act – donate, volunteer – quickly when inspired to do so.   Is your nonprofit meeting this need for ALL by 1) moving donors to click the YES I’LL GIVE button/link with a  meaningful call to action; 2) making donating/volunteering an easy process; 3) keeping lag time in responding to volunteer and/or information requests minimal (at most) so as not to slow the momentum?