2017 | Nonprofit Predictions

Happy New 2017

It is time again to hazard a guess at what 2017 will bring for nonprofit organizations!

After a busy and distracting 2016, it was eye-opening for me to review my predictions from prior years. Mostly, I think they still hold true. But with the recent earth-shaking U.S. Presidential election, more changes will undoubtedly be coming.

Back when the economy was still shaky ca. 2012, I urged nonprofits to become more proficient at private sector fundraising and to reduce their reliance on government grants. I would suggest the sector return to that mindset. Cutting back federal agencies and programs is high on the agenda of the new Administration. And, while that process will take time, it would be a good idea to start weaning yourself of over-dependence on government grants. Start flexing your private sector fundraising muscles, and appreciating (and retaining) your development staff, smiles.

2017 Nonprofit Predictions

Alexander Bolton for The Hill, “Trump Team Prepares Dramatic Cuts” (January 19, 2017).

TriplePundit, “Your Funding Was Cut…Now What” (March 17, 2017).

From a nonprofit organization with which I have worked for several years, one that has received substantial federal grants: it has heard directly from one agency there will be a “push back” to the state level for funding. Hence, developing relationships with state government leaders may also make sense. (February, 2017)

I continue to believe Bitcoin is a force to be reckoned with. A financial industry disruptor, Bitcoin is being accepted by influential companies that many in our sector use like PayPal, Square, Etsy, WordPress, Dell and Microsoft and more. It will still take a while for Bitcoin to become mainstream, of course, but I think we are on our way. In fact, I have a verified account with Coinbase.

In Texas, I continue to see a dislike of (and impatience with) traditional major gift fundraising. The desire to spread the net widely through crowdfunding is increasing, i.e., securing smaller gifts from many more donors. Some nonprofits with which I have worked do not have the time for high intensity donor cultivation, and they are seeking ways to “mass” cultivate and solicit. Having said this, I would caution these groups that preparing for successful crowdfunding campaigns is similar in many ways to preparing for major gift campaigns. It is not a “quick fix.”

In light of the growing importance of Bitcoin and crowdfunding, Carolyn’s Nonprofit Blog has ditched its former list of helpful links covering a wide range of topics by outside experts, to focus instead on two: Bitcoin and Crowdfunding. Go to the bottom of the page to find a widget devoted to them.

I also agree with NTEN, TechSoup and others that measuring objective data about your nonprofit’s effectiveness – and translating that information to stakeholders – will continue to be emphasized going forward. In fact, it is hard to complete a grant application today without having to answer the question, “how will you measure your impact?” Infographics are one way to convey effectiveness to donors, partners and volunteers, and I know one nonprofit that produced its annual report entirely as one attractive infographic, with great success. In fact, strong interest in the topic of infographics in Austin caused our local NTEN tech club Meetup to offer two programs on the topic in 2016.

Mobile communications will continue to increase. Along with it, texting will also increase. GivBee notes that 93% of text messages are read within 3 minutes of receipt; 97% of smartphone users say they text regularly; 88% of marketing emails go unread; and 45% of U.S. donors want text-to-donate options. Shouldn’t we be texting more?

Along with texting will come the creation of innovative new services like GivBee that provide flexible giving levels, not just preset levels like $10, $20, $30 and the like, nor billing that is solely attached to your smartphone provider. Customized payment options, customized messages, campaign status thermometers and more are being offered, and I suggest nonprofits get on board sooner rather than later. Nonprofit Hub provides a list of a other texting services, but I mention GivBee in this year’s predictions article, as I know a member of the staff and I want my readers to know about it.

Last but not least, please accept my best wishes for a happy and successful 2017. Fundraising improved markedly in 2016, and let’s hope that trend continues in 2017.

Carolyn M. Appleton

December 2, 2016


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