Like all businesses, nonprofit organizations are subject to the overall trends within their sector—and like in any other industry, these trends are constantly changing. As the new year approaches, it's wise to understand and anticipate how these evolving factors might impact your nonprofit.
We asked a panel of Forbes Nonprofit Council to share some trends they believe will emerge in the nonprofit space in 2020. Here's what they had to say.
1. Nonprofit Networking Platforms
The development of platforms that make it increasingly easy for nonprofits to connect and interact will build communities of providers and beneficiaries. These platforms will be crucial for innovation, as they can be opened to permit the inputs of a variety of experts and users to create more effective services and mobilize funders and investors to support them. - Jose Luis Castro, Vital Strategies
2. Earned Income
Earned income will be a growing trend in 2020. Nonprofits who have an eye to sustainability will want to leverage this additional source of revenue to be nimble in meeting their clients needs. Also, nonprofits that seek donors as partners in serving their communities will see earned income as a means of leveraging the power of unrestricted dollars. - KellyAnn Romanych, Veterans Legal Institute
3. Private Sector Interaction
Recently, the Business Roundtable issued a statement focused on a corporation's role beyond shareholder value. It decidedly promoted communities, employees and a more diverse group of stakeholders outside those that measure success in profits. This will drive a more robust conversation and partnership between corporations and the nonprofits that serve the communities in which corporations operate. - Maureen O'Brien, New York State Industries for the Disabled
4. A Greater Focus On Mission and Priorities
From a historical perspective, the 2020 election cycle will likely see a record volume of competing interests (good and bad) vying for attention, mindshare and resources. The nonprofit sector, more than ever before, will need to stay mission-focused and clear about their priorities. We will need to be the safe port in the storm and an antidote for what will likely be challenging times. - Thom Ruhe, NC IDEA Foundation
5. Artificial Intelligence
I've said it before and I'll say it again, we are just one innovation away from changing the way we contribute to our favorite charities. Virtual assistance and artificial intelligence will make giving easier than ever before. We will simply tell Alexa or Siri to make a contribution and it will be done. This innovation is going to be a positive game-changer for nonprofits. - Aaron Alejandro, Texas FFA Foundation
6. The Growing 'Attention Economy'
Competition takes many forms, and part of the informational revolution we're in is that we—and the content and business connections we offer—are competing against the attention spans of our audiences. There are more options for folks in our respective spaces to join or participate elsewhere, and competing on metrics like engagement and conversions is a critical element to stay competitive. - Peggy Smith, Worldwide ERC
7. Innovative Sustainability
Nonprofit organizations like hospitals and charities will need to ensure they remain innovative in competing for funding. The sustainability of an organization depends upon its annual budget and the "right" people to carry out its mission. Public-private partnerships help in addition to various diversified funding. Organizations must invest in technology to drive innovation to remain sustainable. - Anisa Palmer, I Will Survive, Inc.
8. Easier, More Personalized Giving
Nonprofits will need to develop easy ways for donors to give back in a very personal way. The days of donors writing checks with little to no interaction with the benefactors are fading. Donors want to see and feel the difference that they're making. Many of my thrift store staff have benefited from our job readiness services. When they share their stories, the impact is evident. - Kimberly Lewis, Goodwill Industries of East Texas, Inc.
9. Nonprofits As The Catalysts For Public-Private Partnerships
Due to the nature of their work, nonprofits are often uniquely attuned to both public and private organizational needs and goals. I predict that nonprofits will step into catalyst roles, creating and connecting more public-private partnerships in 2020. - Elizabeth Kumbhari, Cultural Vistas, Inc.
10. Use Of Cutting-Edge Technology
With the need for greater transparency and accountability, I predict that more NGOs will look to blockchain and other high-tech solutions for fundraising and outcomes management. We currently use blockchain technology to effectively deliver services to disaster survivors. - Elizabeth Disco-Shearer, Disaster Services Corp, SVDP-USA
11. Donations Via Text
Allowing donors to give via text will be an important growing trend. Presently, we're all smartphone users. The key question to ask will be, can our donors make their gift to us in 30 seconds or less? Will our tools be able to remember them? Can returning donors make a gift in 10 seconds or less? Ease of use and simplicity will be critical. Texting can definitely make that possible. - Patrick Coleman, GiveCentral
12. More Women Of Color In Leadership Positions
Women of color do the lion's share of work in nonprofit organizations, yet they fail to make it to the top leadership and strategy roles. Strategy is often decided by people who don't have their finger on the pulse of the community. When nonprofit leaders center the leadership of younger black and brown women, our credibility goes up and we get better results! - Denise Collazo, Faith in Action