The highly contentious and partisan atmosphere in Washington, D.C. right now is being felt at the not-for-profit level, and is making this a volatile year for numerous charitable and philanthropic organizations. Often during times of political upheaval, people tend to lean more on these kinds of organizations for support, out of concern that perhaps the government resources they customarily could count on won’t be there for much longer. We are indeed seeing that effect on the non-profit sector right now.
In times such as these, certain trends emerge that all of those who administer and manage not-for-profits must take heed-these are patterns and changes, short-term and perhaps even long-term, to which they must adapt if they are to see continued financial success and thrive into the future. The world is moving quickly, and in order for such essential organizations to survive and continue to do their good works, they need to be nimble and ahead of the curve.
Here are four current trends of which anyone who runs a not-for-profit should be aware.
- The Funding Challenge-Naturally, this is the lifeblood of any not-for-profit, as none can survive without a steady and reliable funding stream. The political discord we have seen in Washington, D.C. over the past year has caused many organizations to wonder if government funding they have depended on will be cut back or eliminated altogether. This means not-for-profits must be more strategic and aggressive than ever in seeking new revenue streams, those which match their culture and can be sustainable for the long-term. Corporate philanthropy, community partnerships and local government support are all areas that can be explored, and it must be the top priority this year and next year. Those who approach it with a business model, with stretch goals and clearly defined objectives and strategies, will be the ones who come out ahead.
- Partnerships-Much like the idea of regionalization in government, strategically partnering with like-minded organizations to share resources and personnel is an idea that is being explored more and more often these days. It’s a good idea for those not-for-profits that aim to reach similar audiences and have compatible mission statements. Again, one size does not fit all and it will not necessarily work for everyone, but it is an idea worth examining if the right opportunity arises.
- Adapting Staffing Needs-The simple fact is not-for-profits need to be run like any other business these days. Unlike previous eras, labor laws and overtime rules may very well apply to not-for-profit administration, and those who run these organizations need to be aware of compliance measures and requirements. Additionally, the funding challenges discussed above could have a definite impact on staffing levels, and many not-for-profits will have to learn to operate much leaner and more efficiently than in the past. This is why having professional-level management is a must in 2017.
- Modern Technology-Here is one final area where not-for-profits need to operate very similarly to the for-profit sector. It cannot be emphasized enough how imperative it is to be working with the latest and best technologies if these organizations are to maximize their efforts. Recent studies show that businesses are investing the bulk of their resources in this area, and not-for-profits need to consider doing the same. This can improve efficiency, streamline revenue sources and bring much more agility to any organization, as well as take some of the more monotonous and time-consuming tasks out of the hands of workers, where it often becomes financially burdensome. Great attention should also be paid to protecting the assets and information of not-for-profits through state-of-the-art cybersecurity methods. It is an investment that will pay dividends in the short-term and protect the organization for years to come.
Times of political uncertainty can cause many challenges to the not-for-profit world, but those willing to recognize these trends and adapt can use it as an opportunity to shore up long-term success. The future may look daunting, but it is possible to succeed and thrive with the right, business-minded approach.