Positioning your nonprofit for 2013

“The future ain’t what it used to be.” – Yogi Berra

Whew, 2012 is over! Before you get bogged down in your everyday business, take a few moments to explore trends that will impact your success.

Over the last month I’ve been consumed reading and analyzing articles and blogs about trends that will impact the nonprofit sector this year. I’m still digesting the excellent information. However it is time to ‘put pen to paper’ and share with you what I see as the most important trends so I can help ensure a good start to 2013.

Leveraging Technology

Leveraging Technology is number one on my list. However, you will need to distinguish the trendy from the useful. You also need to make a commitment to really know your supporters, so you can effectively take advantage of new technologies to ensure your nonprofit’s impact.

The Stanford Social Innovation Review posted Ten Technology Trends to Watch, an excellent article by Mark Tobias president of Pantheon, which provides online technology solutions for nonprofits, associations, and government.

Mark suggests you should consider these trends as you develop your technology strategy for 2013. Read more details and explore links in the post by clicking SSIR.

  1. Measurement and transparency. What gets measured gets improved.
  2. Consumer-oriented online engagement. People who interact with your organization online don’t want to have to work to make sense of it.
  3. Deploying data to answer burning questions. Think beyond your web analytics dashboard. Instead, what are the core questions your organization wants to answer? Research shows nonprofits are collecting tons of data but aren’t using it.
  4. Knowledge hub rising. To survive and thrive, nonprofits and associations must add value beyond membership and advocacy.
  5. Mobile plus. More and more organizations are creating mobile-friendly websites, but the future of mobile is finding ways for people to accomplish even more when they’re away from their desktops.
  6. The unfettered conference. Recognizing that the world and its travel budgets are changing, nonprofits and associations would be wise to rethink and retool conferences.
  7. New types of products. Nonprofits and associations are using a series of technology-propelled products to make a big difference for both their members and markets (such as health or education).
  8. Whole Foods-ification. It’s organic! Nonprofits are slowly learning not to treat their website and technology as they do their annual reports—projects that are perfected and completed.
  9. Digital learning is soft. The explosive growth in online courses proves how much America likes to learn. So, it’s important to keep in mind that the way people engage, learn, and behave online is changing.
  10. Proof and standards for digital learning are hard. As learning transcends time and place, colleges and employers are challenged to develop meaningful proof that a degree or certificate reflects the knowledge and skills necessary for job success.

 Anticipated Changes in the Nonprofit Sector

Change is pretty much assured for nonprofits in 2013. Nell Edgington, president Social Velocity provides 5 Trends to Watch in 2013. These are hot off the press! You can learn more detail and explore Nell’s links by clicking her post on HuffingtonPost.

  1. More demand for outcomes – nonprofits will need to articulate what results they hope their work with achieve and track whether those results are actually happening.
  2. Decreasing emphasis on nonprofit overhead – More and more people are coming to realize that you can’t just invest in programs without the staff, infrastructure and fundraising to make those programs happen.
  3. More advocacy for the sector as a whole – we will start to see the sector organize, mobilize and build the confidence necessary to claim its rightful place.
  4. Savvier donors – Because nonprofits are getting more savvy, donors are as well. In addition to an increasing demand for proof of outcomes, donors are slowly starting to that there is a difference between revenue and capital in the sector.
  5. Increased efforts to rate and compare nonprofits – As nonprofit outcomes are increasingly in demand, donors become savvier, and the “nonprofit overhead” distinction diminishes, we will increasingly evaluate nonprofits based on the results they achieve, not on how they spend their money. But that requires that a whole infrastructure for evaluating and rating nonprofits emerges, just as it has for the financial markets.

Please share this posting with your community. Create robust discussions. Explore how these trends will impact your nonprofit. Use these issues to help position your organization to take advantage of opportunities in 2013.

Do you have any more trends that you see impacting nonprofits this year? I’d love to hear from you!

PS my next post focuses on some user-friendly fundraising tips and strategies.