A Look Back — and Forward
We’re definitely seeing nonprofits wake up to technology, although in terms of small shops, I’m still seeing too many organizations operating without so much as a basic database. I’d love to see greater innovation in terms of technology, particularly in regards to the use of permission-based e-mail (the original “social media”).
I’m also seeing fundraising as being viewed as a vital part of a healthy nonprofit — hooray! NPOs are starting to wake up to the fact that if they’re not committed to funding their missions, they’re not really committed to their missions. Can higher donor retention rates be far behind?
Grams: Digital. Technology. Mobile.
Murphy: The big change/surprise I see is that Gen Y is big time into volunteerism, which is a good thing! They are really feeling the way to make a difference is through volunteering and getting involved with charities/nonprofits that speak directly to them — animal welfare, environmental, social change. Good stuff!
What major trends/philosophies have you seen over the past 10 years? What has stuck? What has disappeared?
MacLaughlin: The most hyped trend was the generational transfer of wealth that was supposed to happen. Fortunately, advances in science and better living mean people are living longer. Unfortunately, this means people are using up more of their assets, and the recession impacted the short-term giving potential of many families. Instead we’ve had several years of relatively flat fundraising with no miraculous windfall on the horizon for most organizations. Gimmicks and fads are unlikely to reverse this trend.
Barden: The move to greater transparency has really taken off in the last decade. It’s no longer enough to say, “Trust us!” Now nonprofits have to prove they deserve that trust. This is a positive change, but it does open the door to some people focusing exclusively on one or two metrics, or misinterpreting information. It’s also opened the door to some “creative” practices that can skew reality. For example, I was looking at one nonprofit’s 990, and they apparently lease their employees from an outside company to avoid (I assume) having to disclose salaries on the 990. Yes, that’s legal — but is it ethical?