Do You Have a Crystal Ball?
I always believe in studying the past and present of a subject to obtain objective theories and practices.
By this application of study, one is better prepared to interpret subject matter. In addition to the past and present, it is also important to examine the possible future of a subject. It is interesting to view the potential future of the nonprofit sector from various perspectives.
CAF America’s CEO Ted Hart noted that five major drivers will determine the future of philanthropy.
- YouPhilanthropy. It’s not about the charity’s mission, it’s about the donor. Future philanthropy will be more donor-focused, and they will have more control over who they support and how they spend their money.
- Donor-advised funds (DAFs). It is not about deadlines, it’s about strategy. DAFs allow donors the luxury of time and strategy in determining their philanthropic actions. DAFs make space for a more personalized approach to philanthropy.
- Data-driven philanthropy. It’s not just how much you give; it is finding a niche. Today’s philanthropists are wisely embracing the opportunities offered by technology. Greater data will allow donors to focus in on where they can make the most difference.
- 24/7 Philanthropy. It’s not the charities who are campaigning; it’s our friends; it’s our families. We are the campaign. Historically, fundraising was concentrated around a certain time of year (imagine the sounds of the Salvation Army’s bells). Thanks to technology and social media, someone at any given time is raising money.
- Global is local, local is global. It’s not just our neighborhood, it’s our world. The internet and 24-hour news allow charities and donors at any time to react, contribute and make a difference.
The article titled, “4 Predictions for the Future of Corporate Philanthropy,” points out that for-profit businesses, individuals and nonprofit organizations now all know that the benefits of giving extend to the giver as well as the receiver; companies will allow giving to become available to all employees; more employees will get involved by giving and volunteering; more companies will begin to offer giving; and you will see many companies stress giving as their core value. Corporate giving will change for the better.
Stanford Social Innovation Review believes the following will take place over the next few years. These activities are:
Nonprofits will use advances in technology to engage donors face to face and at every giving level; transitional organizations focused on solving problems and then disbanding will increasingly challenge “permanent” nonprofits; big data will become ubiquitous and easier to manage and understand; and nonprofits will become proactive, rather than reactive, to opportunistic fundraising campaigns. The nonprofit landscape is changing and the most effective nonprofit leaders will adapt strategies to ultimately make an impact on the world.
The article, “The Future of Nonprofits: Run Them Like an Innovative Business,” stressed that every nonprofit needs an innovative and profitable business model.
Five ways to create one are:
- Think like a business, and assume your funding will dry up in a year.
- Redefine “customer,” and consider who should become a paying customer.
- Package up offerings, and think creatively about what you sell and how it adds value.
- Don’t go it alone by creating innovation through partnerships.
- Create a sustainable business model and measure your organization like a business.
The key to success in the future is to not eliminate profit from your business model!
The Stanford Social Innovation Review looks at the longer-term future of the sector. Several possibilities in the next few years include the fact that nonprofits may become a set of well organized, quasi-corporate entities that take on the tasks and functions that previously were the purview of the state.
Nonprofits will continue to be the building blocks of a self-organizing and self-correcting community corpus. The sector will continue to create and reflect the diversity, pluralism and dynamism of modern society. By attracting philanthropic venture capital, nonprofits will become the search engine for social problem solving in modern societies. The nonprofit sector will continue to seek complex public-private partnerships that will greatly benefit society.
The exciting view of our future is the fact that we live in an ever-changing world. Through a variety of factors, the demands on the nonprofit sector will become even more complex. The skills needed by the practitioners of tomorrow will need to be more diverse than ever before in history. Organizations that are just status quo will cease to exist.
Every nonprofit will need to look at their business model and make modifications. Organizations with proven collaborations and partnerships will obtain funding and favor. Those that stand alone will suffer. Studying the past and even present scenarios may not fully prepare you for what is ahead of you. Study best of class examples and employ best practices. Study trends and attempt to validate future predictions.
Do you have a crystal ball? The future will be here before you know it. Are you prepared for every possibility? Seek to strive and not just survive.
Duke has extensive experience as a nonprofit practitioner, author, lecturer and consultant. He has been a contributing author to NonProfit PRO for the last 11 years. He has been a long-standing member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals where he was previously named the AFP Indiana Chapter Fundraising Executive of the Year and has held the CFRE designation for many years.
He received his doctorate degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in education administration, master's degree from Marshall University with an emphasis in public administration and a bachelor's degree from West Virginia University with an emphasis in marketing/management. He has also completed post graduate work at the University of Louisville.
He is currently executive director of development for The Salvation Army Indiana Division in Indianapolis, Indiana. Contact Duke at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-224-1029.