Skip to main content

6 emerging trends for nonprofit organizations to watch out for

from  December 20, 2023 | 4 min read

Nonprofit organizations have found themselves in uncharted waters in the last few years. Demand for services has risen, and money coming in from donations has fallen. To survive and thrive, nonprofits must continue to adapt to new ways of fundraising in a hybrid work environment and find new ways to connect with donors in an entirely digital landscape.

Here we take a look at 6 of the current key trends that nonprofits need to be aware of:

1. The importance of transparency

Transparency in nonprofit organizations is vital to improving operational effectiveness and boosting fundraising success. Transparency means conducting business openly and clearly. It works hand in hand with accountability, which is about taking responsibility through effective communication. Not only do transparency and accountability efforts create a more ethical nonprofit organization, but they also build trust among stakeholders, which is the foundation of an impactful philanthropic relationship.

Understanding and acting upon what external and internal stakeholders like and don’t like about a nonprofit organization is a great way to establish a relationship built on accountability. The desire for more transparency is especially important for the younger generation. Around 60% of younger generations agree that seeing the impact of their donation significantly affects their decision to give.

There are plenty of ways nonprofits can improve their transparency and accountability, including:

  • Join a standards program that provides a “seal of approval” to organizations that follow specific guidelines.

  • Create insightful reports for stakeholders and publish them publicly.

  • Maintain a transparent board structure and document board meetings. Publicly list board members and do not compensate them.

  • Develop key policies such as whistleblowing, conflict of interest, and fundraising policies.

  • Financial disclosure - not only is public financial disclosure a nonprofit transparency best practice (and may be legally required), but it directly impacts an organization’s ability to communicate its mission, values, and financial health to relevant stakeholders. The new International Financial Reporting for Non Profit Organizations (IFR4NPO) aims to aims to bring clarity and consistency to nonprofit financial reporting. 

Click to read Helping nonprofits deliver on their mission with FP&A and HCM Gated

2. Digital Payments

Digitization of payment technology is one of the most important trends as we emerge from the pandemic. For nonprofits of all types, the last year has seen them having to make the digital shift and dive deep into the world of digital payments. In fact, while overall nonprofit contributions were up 4.1 percent during the pandemic, online giving grew 12.1 percent, mirroring the digital-first ratio flip that so many business verticals have seen over the past year.

Donations can now be received via Apple Pay, QR codes and other digital payment methods, which makes it easier for nonprofits to fundraise and for supporters to make quick donation decisions. Nonprofits can now receive real-time payments at events, rather than taking payment details on paper, which massively increases their footprint of fundraising options. 

3. Using technology for good

There are several current key nonprofit technology trends, and we are seeing more nonprofit organizations move to the cloud to drive cost savings while supporting a remote workforce. Owning or renting space and maintaining costly on-premises infrastructures like servers, networking devices, and internet access is a significant burden on nonprofits. The cloud approach provides additional benefits through the availability of new analytics and cybersecurity tools. And as nonprofits dip into the world of AI to mine information about donors, they need to ensure they are using tech for good. It can help to promote equity and bolster privacy protection.

Nonprofits can also look to align and partner with a tech vendor that shares their values and their corporate social responsibility (CSR) vision so they can work together to achieve business and social goals. 

In light of recent changes such as Apple’s privacy updates that changed how brands track consumer engagement, limiting email open rate data and activity tracking among IP addresses, we can expect to see nonprofits adapt how they reach and connect with donors. There will be more focus on donor empowerment, letting donors choose how and where their information is shared and how they like to be engaged with as a result.

4. Tech-driven and hybrid experiences

In the last few years, live streaming platforms have become valuable tools to virtually connect with donors when in-person events weren’t possible, but hybrid is so much more than that. Hybrid events will benefit both in-person and virtual attendees with advanced, tech-driven experiences that take lessons from the many virtual events staged during the pandemic.

5. Corporate Social Responsibility

CSR initiatives help to build more relationships between nonprofits and businesses of all sizes, creating wide-reaching philanthropic networks and support systems. These relationships between missions and brands tap into the rise of the social donor, allowing both parties to reach the audiences of the other. It is all about organizations being conscious of the kind of impact they are having on all aspects of society, including economic, social, and environmental, and making sure that operations enhance society and the environment instead of contributing negatively to them. 

CSR can come in the form of diversity, equity, and inclusion programs, volunteerism, and environmental impact. Cloud technology is generally considered to be more environmentally friendly and energy efficient than on premise systems as there is less physical equipment using energy and it creates a lower carbon footprint. 

6. New audiences and recurring giving

Reaching new audiences is key to nonprofit growth. Nonprofits looking to expand their reach should review their goals first and then create audience personas, create shareable, engaging content, host events, and generally generate awareness within the new demographic. Be present where donors tend to navigate. Fundraisers could make it a key strategy to share their mission outside their typical audience, attend events, sit on panels, and write to audiences not in the nonprofit space. This will expand their voice and open doors to donors they otherwise would not have engaged.

Like the trends we see in FinTech to bring high-grade tools to smaller organizations, recurring donor management through fundraising technology will allow any nonprofit to get more donations online. Recurring giving is already a valuable tool for nonprofits, accounting for 26% of online revenue for organizations that raise over $50 million in total donation volume on Classy, as noted in The State of Modern Philanthropy. There are still over $400 billions of offline donations that nonprofits process, many of which could be transferred online through recurring giving programs to save both time and resources. The technology is simple, and the impact of just a handful of recurring donations made, tracked, and nurtured online can mean sustainable income for years ahead without requiring additional resources.

How Unit4 can help your organization

Unit4’s next-generation, smart, cloud-based solutions for nonprofit organizations focus on People Experience to help free your teams to do more of what matters: making a positive impact in the world. Our purpose-built solutions transform work, so your people gain the time and flexibility to focus on achieving your mission.

It’s vital to make the best use of your people’s precious time and to maximize the impact you can deliver with available funding. You also need to satisfy the rising demands of regulators and tech-savvy donors. Conventional, labor-intensive legacy systems and outdated manual processes no longer meet these needs. So why let them hold you back?

Make your teams more productive while increasing the visibility and control they need to achieve your mission. Click here to book a demo of our FP&A solution, or check out the full Unit4 People Experience Suite here.

Sign up to see more like this