Nonprofit Sector Trends That Affect Your Organization

Team NLC News

In our ever-changing world, shifts in charitable giving and donor engagement require our nonprofit sector to think differently to survive and thrive. Two recent studies highlight nonprofit sector trends that every leader should be considering as they plan and prepare for the future. Here’s what the latest data suggests and what your nonprofit should be thinking about to increase organizational productivity and longevity.

Nonprofit sector trends that affect every organization

Declines in Charitable Giving Require a Deeper Focus on Donor Engagement and Retention

The Giving USA Foundation just released its 2019 Giving USA report, which examines contributions by individuals, corporations and foundations for 2018. Results show that total giving declined 1.7% last year. Although giving by foundations and corporations experienced healthy growth, individual giving was down after a record-breaking year in 2017. Experts attribute the overall decline to a variety of possible factors, including the uncertain stock market at the end of 2018 and changes in federal tax policy.

Of the nine charitable service categories Giving USA analyzes — religion, education, human services, health, foundations, public-society benefit, arts/culture/humanities, international affairs and environment/animal — there was uneven growth across these sub-sectors. Specifically, international affairs and environment/animal organizations experienced substantial growth in giving in 2018, while giving to human services, health, and arts, culture and humanities remained flat. Organizations dedicated to public-society benefit, religion and education as well as foundations all experienced declines in giving after recent periods of previous growth.

For local nonprofits, this data underscores the critical importance of pursuing diverse strategies to deepen donor engagement and strengthen donor retention efforts. Upcoming trainings like NLC’s sustainability through annual giving and fund development basics can be helpful to identify opportunities to strengthen your current efforts.

Authentic Alignment with Corporate Partners is More Important than Ever

While “purpose” has become a buzz word in the corporate sector during the past decade, a recent study by Porter Novelli and Cone examined not just what consumers say they will do to support responsible brands, but also how they feel and physically react when exposed to purpose-driven messaging. The research combined online survey results of more than 1,000 American adults with biometrics testing that measured facial, heart rate and skin conductance upon viewing a randomized set of messages.

While it’s no surprise that nearly 9 in 10 (86%) consumers say they’d purchase products and services from a purpose-driven company whose values align with their own, findings revealed that purpose-driven companies are more likely to capture the physical and emotional attention of customers.

  • Nearly 3 in 4 Americans (73%) say that in today’s uncertain social and political times, they feel an urgency to support issues in every way they can, including through the brands they support.
  • 76% say supporting companies that are addressing social and environmental issues helps them feel they’re doing their part.
  • 75% want to support issues that are widely discussed in news and society.

As Americans prioritize brands that are solving today’s social issues and as individual giving has declined, local nonprofits should prioritize identifying and cultivating potential corporate partners that share authentic mission alignment and values.


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