We are in a time like none other. The economic issues we are facing combined with the revolution of social media and online member communities is forever changing how nonprofits are seen and conduct the work at hand. Alan J. Abramson, a Professor at George Mason University in the Department of Public and International Affairs and a Senior Fellow in the Nonprofit Sector and Philanthropy Program at the Aspen Institute, identified seven issues facing the nonprofit sector. Are you still struggling with…
1. Loss of legitimacy. “Return on investment” is a term that has spread prolifically across multiple industries and we’ve found it affects even nonprofits where stakeholders of every variety (boards, government, foundations, corporations, general 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 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 – nonprofits will see a continued dramatic shift/change in regards to human capital. Boomers will require more assistance over the next several decades while we also experience demographic changes in a new generation of nonprofit leadership.
4. Increased competition. The New York Times recently reported that the number of nonprofits has increased 60% in the last decade. Social media has helped cultivate a new wave of smaller nonprofits competing with the more established agencies and groups. Plus the lagging economy has spurred the growth of for-profit entities, which disseminate products, people and services to groups once served by nonprofits. This competition for funds, resources and volunteers is sure to weigh heavily on many nonprofits.
5. Increased pressure to perform. Doing more with less and being more under the spotlight has increased the pressure to out-perform 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 nonprofits are experiencing a pressure they may not have experienced before.
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/volunteers or the recognition and support of these individuals, human capital is of 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 experiencing resurgence through social media exposure and a 24-hour television news cycle. With the ability to share information at lightning fast speeds, news of the work and mission of nonprofits (both for the positive and negative) is far-reaching.
So where are we going now? Here are some solutions for nonprofits:
Nonprofit organizations must embrace social media. The last words you may want to hear, because of the frequency in which you hear them, are “embrace social media.” The degree to which you choose to do so is your call and depends largely on the type of nonprofit, your audience and the community you serve. The decision is ultimately on you but participation in social media allows you to become more transparent while you reach larger audiences and become part of a global conversation. You have a community already. Providing them the opportunity to connect with one another will only make them more loyal. Plus social media is a great tool to use to educate those who need services and those who can help you provide them. You’re already asking for help, why not do so with a larger audience?
Overcome a fear of change. Many believe that nonprofits are afraid of change, they think that 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 because it’s comfortable or effective. You organization is likely in transition, whether you know it or not.
Maximize the use of your resources. Too many services needed, not enough time. Doing too much with too little. Make sure that you maximize the efficiency of what you can control, like administrative tasks. Software exists that can help you manage online donations and fundraising; event and conference management; volunteer coordination; reporting functionality; ecommerce storefront; bulk email and eNewsletters; as well as provide your community a means in which to connect.
Continue your work. You’re doing great! You’re making a difference. That’s what you do best. YourMembership can give you the tools to help you be more efficient and worry less about the things you can’t control (the economy, donors, resources) and help you get back to doing what you do best.