Your nonprofit has faced challenges for as long as it’s been around. You’ve been working to overcome the same obstacles for years. But, as the years go by, each challenge gives way to new opportunities as you continue to adjust your goals and priorities to meet changing trends.
Alan J. Abramson, a professor in the Department of Public and International Affairs at George Mason University and a senior fellow in the Nonprofit Sector and Philanthropy Program at the Aspen Institute, has identified seven issues facing your nonprofit and the sector.
Are you still struggling with these?
1. Loss of legitimacy. “Return on investment” is a term which has spread prolifically across multiple industries, and we’ve found it affects even your nonprofit where stakeholders of every variety (boards, government, foundations, corporations and the public) are questioning nonprofit work and expenses. There’s a call for transparency. Stakeholders want to see good being done in the community through efficient and cost-effective means.
2. Fiscal stress. The need for nonprofit services and solutions has exploded, while your budgets and fundraising probably haven’t. How do you do even more with less?
3. Increased demand in face of demographic and economic changes. As the demand for services increases—along with the changing demographics of those served and serving, your nonprofit sees a continued shift in regard to human capital. Boomers will require more assistance over the next several decades, while you experience demographic changes in a new generation of nonprofit leadership.
4. Increased competition. The New York Times has reported the number of nonprofits has increased more than 60% during the past decade. Social communities have helped cultivate a new wave of smaller nonprofits competing with the more established agencies and groups. Plus, there’s been growth of for-profit entities, which disseminate products, people and services to groups once only served by your nonprofit. This competition for funds, resources and volunteers weighs heavily on many nonprofits.
5. Increased pressure to perform. Doing more with less and being more in the spotlight has increased the pressure for you to outperform even the highest of standards, while the distribution of resources has not kept up. Add to it the ever-present scrutiny of public and private sectors, and your nonprofit may experience a pressure you may not have experienced before now.
6. Human resource. The most underappreciated, yet essential, part of your nonprofit’s organization is the human element. Whether speaking of fiscal investment in employees, staff and volunteers or the recognition and support of these individuals, human capital is a fundamental importance to the health and sustainability of your nonprofit’s mission.
7. Greater visibility. The positive communal view of the work of nonprofits is surging through social communities and a 24-hour television news cycle. With the ability to share information at lightning fast speeds, news of the work and mission of your nonprofit (both positive and negative) is far-reaching.
So, where can you go now? Here are some solutions for your nonprofit to consider:
Nonprofits must embrace a social community. The last words you may want to hear, because of the frequency in which you hear them, are “embrace social communities.” The degree to which you choose to do so is your call and depends largely on your type of nonprofit, your audience and the community you serve. The decision is ultimately on you. But participation in a social community allows you to become more transparent, while you reach larger audiences and become part of a global conversation.
If you already have a community, providing them the opportunity to connect with one another only makes them more loyal. Plus, it’s a great tool to educate those who need services and those who can help you deliver them. You’re already asking for help, why not do so with a larger audience?
Overcome a fear of change. Many believe nonprofits are afraid of change. They think nonprofits are stuck in the mentality of doing things the way they’ve always done them. But, ask yourself: Are you happy with the work you’re doing and the resources you have? Decide whether you are doing it the same way you’ve always done it simply because it’s comfortable or effective. Your organization is likely in transition, whether you know it or not.
Maximize the use of your resources. Too many services needed, not enough time. Or, doing too much with too little. Make sure you maximize the efficiency of what you can control, such as administrative tasks. Solutions exist to help you manage online donations and fundraising; event and conference management; volunteer coordination; reporting functionality; ecommerce storefront; bulk email and e-newsletters; and a social community to strengthen connections.
Continue your work. You’re doing great! You’re making a difference. It’s what you do best. YourMembership offers you the tools to help you be more efficient and worry less about the things you can’t control and help you get back to doing what you do best.