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Slow and Steady: The new normal for nonprofits in 2013

February 13, 2013 at 11:34 am

By Shaneece Dixon

After experiencing the devastating state of the economy in 2009, it appears things are looking up for nonprofits in the U.S. According to a budget update from the National Conference of State Legislatures, most state budgets “appear to be in line with budgeted estimates through the first few months of the new fiscal year.”

At least half of these states are expected to reach their peak levels in revenue by the end of the year. Though other states are uncertain when they’ll return to those levels, the company Blackbaud, a leading provider of nonprofit software and services, predicts donations are not likely to dramatically increase. And with recent natural disasters, increased program pressures and financial debt crises, slow and steady looks like the new normal for many nonprofits in 2013.

Given the slow rate of the economy’s recovery, fundraising has remained fairly static at two percent of the gross domestic product (GPD).  This is partially a result of many donors opting to support fewer organizations. Thus, it is imperative that nonprofits focus even more on donor retention and cost-effective donor attainment.

One factor nonprofits must consider is the increasing rate in which technology is shaping the world around us. Network for Good created the Digital Giving Index which focuses on trends in charitable giving. In its recent report via the 2012 Digital Giving Index, Network for Good found that 65 percent of donors gave their donations online.

It also indicated that 30 percent of donations occur in the month of December alone, with 10 percent garnered in the last three days of the year. Even more noteworthy, donations made directly through nonprofit websites with specialized giving pages raised six times more dollars than generic giving pages.

So what does all of this really mean?

For one, it means the nonprofit sector must work harder with limited resources. But it also gives nonprofits the opportunity to use new, innovative ways to reach out to funders and donors. “The approach to being innovative really comes from having the opportunity to be intentional around doing new things,” said Lisa Brown, president and CEO of Nonprofit HR Solutions. “We need to look outside of our circle as nonprofits for creative ways to attract, retain, and develop talent.” An article posted in Association Now, indicated that 90 percent of nonprofits don’t have an employee-retention strategy, while 70 percent does not have a succession plan for senior leadership.

In a more profitable economy, these things would normally be overlooked. But if nonprofits are not planning for the future and not looking for ways to improve and develop new talent, then retaining donors will be an even more difficult task—especially in a world dominated by social media and technology.

What is your nonprofit doing to reach out to prospective donors and volunteers? Tell us your story in the comments below.

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