2014 predictions for the non-profit sector

predictions3It happened again yesterday. A non-profit friend of mine called and we talked for an hour about their revenue model and fundraising issues. Questions included:

  • We need to start doing more with private sector fundraising. Everyone at our agency agrees on this point. It is in the new strategic plan. But after lots of talking no one wants to do anything. What should we do? How do we move forward?
  • We are very dependent on government funding. How should we start diversifying our revenue streams?
  • Our revenue strategies that worked well prior to 2008 no longer work very well. We want to course correct, but the people sitting around our boardroom table were recruited with an old revenue model in mind. Can we ask these people to help us make the necessary changes? Or do we need to change the people sitting around the table? How quickly can all of this be done?

Ever since the economy changed in 2008, non-profits have been wrestling with these kind of questions. What economists and politicians are calling “The New Normal” has non-profit leaders scratching their heads and wondering what to do about it.
I’ve seen some non-profits pivot nicely, and I’ve seen many more struggle. This trend will continue into 2014!
Based on this prediction, I think the following trends are also likely to follow:

  1. Non-profit boards and staff will continue re-examining and tweaking their revenue model. (Click here for more info on different types of non-profit revenue models)
  2. Non-profit boards will continue to struggle with who should be sitting around their boardroom tables as they attempt to change their revenue models.
  3. Non-profit staff will continue to struggle with developing and using volunteer engagement strategies and tools in an effort to move their agency FROM a pre-2008 revenue model TO a new 2014-and-beyond revamped fundraising plan.
  4. There will be renewed interested by non-profit boards and staff to engage the services of fundraising professionals who can provide technical assistance around these questions.
  5. The word “bankruptcy” will be used more and more by donors, stakeholders and the news media in 2014 to talk about non-profit organizations and municipalities (e.g. Detroit, etc) who weren’t successful in tweaking their revenue models.

Is your organization currently engaged in asking questions like the ones with which I started this post? Are there additional questions you’re asking in your boardroom? What do you think about these five predictions I’ve made? Am I full of bologna?
Please use the comment box below to share your thoughts and experiences.
Here’s to your health!
Erik Anderson
Founder & President, The Healthy Non-Profit LLC