Nonprofit organizations are stressed. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has affected charitable giving, and nonprofit executives are seeking more innovative ways to attract talent and attention to their mission.
To explore the current challenges and opportunities facing nonprofit organizations, Wipfli polled more than 700 financial professionals and executives from the nonprofit sector across the U.S. The resulting report, the Nonprofit Priorities Benchmark: 2019 Outlook Survey Report, highlighted several concerns, and a clear theme emerged: uncertainty.
Here are three areas of interest:
It’s no surprise that fundraising is the top challenge facing respondents’ organizations. Recent pressures have increased financial uncertainty for nonprofit organizations of all sizes.
The survey suggests nonprofit organizations need to not only expand their fundraising activities, but also get smarter about their funding sources and donor retention rates. Understanding generational and demographical communication preferences let organizations better target communication channels that include mobile, social, online, and direct mail.
To grow recurring gifts, the survey suggests that nonprofit organizations need to reconsider their giving options. For example, setting up a monthly giving option affords better stability and predictability. Plus, a monthly giving event provides another touchpoint to not only express thanks but also reinforce commitment.
The survey also points out that fundraising efforts should be expanded across the organization and not be the sole responsibility of the development team. Grassroots efforts from staff members using social media provide a direct appeal and form a broader intake strategy.
Also, the way donors give continues to shift. All nonprofits need to be present and active in the online fundraising space.
Recruitment & Engagement
A close second to fundraising involves staffing management—recruiting, workplace culture, and employee engagement. The competition to attract staff has seen significant changes in the recent years as unemployment rates have decreased.
The nonprofit organization’s benefit of “doing good” still has power but it is competing with workplace policies in the for-profit arena that include unlimited vacation, work-from-home options, and socially conscious office culture.
Nonprofit organization leaders must learn how to keep staff informed and excited about the mission. Providing continuous feedback and educating staff about accomplishments and goals is the first part of the strategy. The second part is linking individual performance to the impact on the overall mission.
The survey showed that many of the respondents were taking a hard look at their systems and processes to improve operating efficiency and control costs.
Moving from local, separate systems to more comprehensive cloud-based offerings allows for more integration options and remote accessibility. This, in turn, increases engagement.
Streamlining processes is an essential part of creating efficiency across the organization and may not involve big system changes. Feedback from staff, donors, volunteers, and board members can identify outdated routing processes.
Identifying and controlling uncertainties in fundraising, staffing management, and operations will serve your organization now and in the future.