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5 Nonprofit Trends to Watch in 2014

By Nell Edgington



The_Crystal_BallAmong other obvious things, December is a time for reflection on the past year and predictions for the coming year. There have already been some great forecasts about what 2014 will bring the social change sector (here, here, and here). And as is my tradition, I want to add my thoughts about the trends to watch in the coming year. (If you want to see how I did in past years, you can read my nonprofit trends posts for 2011, 2012 and 2013.)

Here’s what I think we should watch for in 2014:

  1. Growing Wealth Disparity
    Evidence increasingly reveals that despite our best efforts the gap between the rich and the poor is widening, not shrinking. This growing disparity means that the work nonprofits do to address the ramifications of these inequities is in growing demand. The problems are simply too big and getting bigger every minute. At the same time government resources are shrinking so the greater burden for solutions is increasingly placed on the shoulders of the nonprofit sector. As problems get worse and money gets tighter the social change sector will take center stage.

  2. Greater Nonprofit Sector Confidence
    As the nonprofit sector is asked to do more and more, nonprofits will no longer be a “nice to have” but an absolute essential component of any way forward. We will move squarely away from the idea of “charity” and toward an economy and a mindset that fully integrates the social. No longer sidelined as a small piece of the pie, the nonprofit sector will be recognized for the undeniable and pivotal role it plays in our economy, our institutions, our systems. As such, the nonprofit sector will stop apologizing for the resources it needs to do the job. The sector will rise up and take its rightful place as a critical force in shaping a sustainable future.

  3. Increased Movement Toward High Performance
    As resources become tighter and we look to the nonprofit sector to solve mounting problems, public and private funders will increasingly want to see the return on their investments. And that can only be done by understanding what results a nonprofit is achieving. The growing push this year away from financial metrics and toward outcome metrics will continue to grow. Nonprofits will have to learn not only how to articulate the outcomes they are working toward, but more importantly, how to manage their operations towards those outcomes.

  4. More Capacity Investments
    And if we are going to get smarter about achieving results in the social change space, more donors will start to recognize that they have to build the capacity of that space. There is no end to the list of capacity-building needs of the sector.  From investing in more sustainable financial engines, to funding evaluation and performance management systems, to financing nonprofit leader coaching, philanthropists will increasingly recognize that if we are going to expect more from the nonprofit sector we must make sure they have the tools to do the job. A handful of savvy foundations and individual donors have already made capacity investments, and as those investments pay off, more donors will follow suit.

  5. Accelerated Effort to Enlarge the 2% Pie
    For the past four decades private contributions to the nonprofit sector have not risen above 2% of the U.S. gross domestic product. In recent years there have been attempts to grow that pie. And the big question whenever a new funding vehicle enters the space (like crowdfunding most recently) is whether it will be the magic bullet to shatter that glass ceiling. But we are not there yet. As social challenges continue to grow, the wealth gap continues to widen, and a new generation of donors comes of age, there will be increasing pressure to channel more money (not just the same money through a new vehicle) toward social change.

Photo Credit: John William Waterhouse

 

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About the Author: Nell Edgington is President of Social Velocity (www.socialvelocity.net), a management consulting firm leading nonprofits to greater social impact and financial sustainability. Social Velocity helps nonprofits grow their programs, bring more money in the door, and use resources more effectively. For more information, check out Social Velocity consulting services and clients.


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11 Comments to 5 Nonprofit Trends to Watch in 2014

James
December 17, 2013

Your number one is far reaching. I dont know what ramifications we have due to the gap between rich and poor. My hope is that not for profits will start to make people accountable! Get them out of our programs! Get them working! We see the same faces over and over, needing our help! If we put limits on them, we will begin to see the human spirit at work! People are amazing when faced with the fact that THEY must make due on their own!

Brian Crouth
December 18, 2013

To fellow non-profit managers and fundraisers: check out these trend predictions for 2014. Do you agree with them?

eric burroughs
December 18, 2013

Read this.

[…] 5 Nonprofit Trends to Watch in 2014 (Nell Edgington) from Social Velocity “December is a time for reflection on the past year and predictions for the coming year. There have already been some great forecasts about what 2014 will bring the social change sector (here, here, and here). And as is my tradition, I want to add my thoughts about the trends to watch in the coming year.” […]

Renee Naughton
December 22, 2013

In Jacksonville, Florida our community has already shown signs of the realization of the pivotal role played by nonprofits in our economy and the critical services they provide. At the Police Athletic League we have experienced the trend towards outcome metrics. I am most excited to learn that donors will be making more capacity building investments. We will look forward to participation from these savvy donors. Any suggestions on how to connect to them?

[…] 5 Nonprofit Trends to Watch in 2014 | Social Velocity. […]

[…] Fundraising has always been a tough beast to tame. Moreover, with new oversight laws and the growing wealth disparity, organizations must convince donors how their services are producing sustainable […]

[…] Fundraising has always been a tough beast to tame. Moreover, with new oversight laws and the growing wealth disparity, organizations must convince donors how their services are producing sustainable […]

Nell Edgington
January 7, 2014

Renee, donors make capacity building investments when they already are committed to and investing in a nonprofit and then are convinced by the nonprofit leader that a capacity building investment will help the nonprofit achieve even greater outcomes and impact. You can read more about how to do this here: http://www.socialvelocity.net/2013/03/financing-not-fundraising-break-free-from-the-starvation-cycle/

[…] 5 Nonprofit Trends to Watch comes from Nell Edgington. She notes: “Evidence increasingly reveals that despite our best […]

[…] Nonprofit trends to watch in 2014 […]

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