There is no doubt that 2020 is going to be an exhilarating year for nonprofits. Fundraising is more competitive than ever, applying some added pressure on staff and boards. On the flip side, there are more and better nonprofit tech tools than ever before, too. Organizations have access to data and digital tools they could have only imagined at the start of the millenium. Here are my 8 predictions for 2020.
- Nonprofits are going to continue to think more like a business. When I started my first nonprofit in the early 200s, nonprofits thought of themselves as social service martyrs who had to essentially beg for support. That is less and less the case now. Nonprofits know they provide a valuable and needed service with tangible ROI for supporters. This means they will state their value and terms in more commercial ways.
- As this more business-like thinking collides with a tighter donation market, I predict an increased emphasis in the nonprofit sector on using software tools and technology. Especially for financial operations, the business arena has been using sophisticated modeling and software for years. Nonprofits will continue to get more serious about being as tactical as possible.
- To drill that down a bit, when nonprofits focus more on operating like a solvent business, there will be a greater focus specifically on data-driven fundraising. Top-tier nonprofits have been doing this in some capacity for quite a while, but as software tools become more user friendly and ubiquitous, data-driven practices will be adopted by even grass-roots organizations. Tracking donor retention, gift size, lapsed donors, and so on will become even more of a science.
- Interestingly, as nonprofits become more business-oriented, we are also seeing businesses getting more philanthropy-oriented. The line is blending at businesses like TOMS, Ben & Jerry’s, Bombas socks, Ruby Cup, Warby Parker and many others donate some of their products with every purchase. Outside of this kind of direct corporate philanthropy, businesses are engaging in more employee-based fundraising and days of service, specifically as the socially conscious Millennials rise in leadership.
- Speaking of Millenials, nonprofits will need to figure out how to build relationships with this (and younger) generations, rather than continuing to depend on the deeper Boomer pockets. So far, organizations have largely neglected this group as they prefer to pursue mature donors who are fewer but wealthier. It will be interesting to see how nonprofits meet this challenge.
- In other diversity news, 2020 looks to be the year that nonprofits finally start to take this issue seriously. “Diversity” is no longer just about skin color (though there is still a very long way to go on nonprofit board racial inclusion), but also ability, gender, age, socioeconomic level, and other factors.
- I hope that 2020 will be the end of “consensus culture” at nonprofits, when everything is rubber stamped by the board and no one has very differing views. Traditionally, nonprofit board members have been people that were not necessarily challenged very much. With the increased focus on diversity, ideally boards and nonprofit can have robust discussions and better engagement than ever.
- Board management is getting more and more hands-off each year. The great news there is that as board chairs and CEOs need to spend less time simply managing the information sharing and logistics of a board, they can focus more on fostering healthy board engagement. With better technology, board members have the ability to self-regulate on tasks, goals, meeting preparation and more. I’m hopeful that 2020 will be a year of more engaged boards and less harried administrators.
About Jeb Banner:
Jeb is the founder and CEO of Boardable, a nonprofit board management software provider. He is also the founder of two nonprofits, The Speak Easy and Musical Family Tree, as well as a board member of United Way Central Indiana and ProAct. Jeb is based in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Boardable is an online board management portal that centralizes communication, document storage, meeting planning, and everything else that goes into running a board of directors. Founded in 2016 by nonprofit leaders and founders, Boardable has a mission to improve board engagement for nonprofits. Boardable is based in Indianapolis, Indiana.