NonProfit PRO Leadership Conference: 8 Nonprofit Leadership, Board Trends for 2015
Sarah Durham, president, Big Duck
5. Over the past few years, nonprofits are increasingly looking inward at their operations, technology, infrastructure and staff capacity. Creating mission-centric programs is still central, but as the sector matures, more and more leaders understand that it takes more than just great programs to advance a mission, especially in tougher fundraising climates. I see this playing out largely in two areas.
Yesterday’s executive directors are now increasingly called CEOs, and they are running nonprofits with a sharper focus on communications, development, HR and more traditionally “for-profit,” business-like strategies. In 2015, I expect we’ll see that trend continue: Increasingly, CEOs understand that communicating well externally requires communicating well internally, too.
Here’s how I think it shakes out: In the past, the focus of was almost entirely on “the stuff that gets sent out.” These days, more nonprofits are (wisely) prioritizing building a team of strong communicators internally, coordinating the messages that donors and other external audiences receive, and building a healthy work culture. That means making sure the right people are hired, giving them better support to build their skills, integrating values into daily decision-making, and working to break down departmental silos and barriers.
6. Another outgrowth of this more internal, capacity-oriented point of view is an increased use of rebranding as a strategy to help align staff internally around how to communicate and boost revenue. Big Duck and FDR Group’s 2014 study, “The Rebrand Effect,” noted that 92 percent of participating organizations rebranded to communicate more effectively, with fundraising as a leading motivator to do so; 58 percent of participants have more confidence in their staff’s ability to communicate well on behalf of the nonprofit and to use the new brand to help assess things like the alignment of programs, for examples.