• April 20, 2014

Five Trends Help to Create "Nonprofits of the Future," Report Says

The nonprofit field isn’t going to simply bounce back a few years from now to the state it was in before the recession. That’s the message behind a new report by La Piana Consulting, which explores five trends that are hastening the emergence of a new nonprofit landscape.

Those trends are:

Shifting demographics. With new generations making up a growing share of the work force, charities must learn to share leadership with younger workers, the report says.

Technological advances. Social-media technologies provide charities the opportunity to gain greater exposure, but they also require groups to be comfortable giving more people within their organization a chance to speak out.

New ways to collaborate. With the advent of new technologies, organizations can just as easily work with an individual located across the world as they can through traditional coalitions and alliances, according to the report.

Greater interest in service. Last year’s presidential election spurred interest in volunteerism, but nonprofit groups need to keep in mind that people have many different reasons for volunteering and ought to tailor their opportunities to individuals’ interests.

Blurred lines between nonprofit and for-profit. Greater emphasis on corporate social responsibility and the emergence of businesses whose primary aim is to do good are challenging the nonprofit field’s traditional identity but are also creating opportunities for new partnerships and collaboration, says the report.

The report, which was paid for by the James Irvine Foundation and the Fieldstone Alliance, examines what nonprofit groups can do to thrive in this new reality.

“Nonprofits of the future” need skilled leaders who are ready to abandon overtly hierarchical styles of management and include more people in decision making, says the report, which was based on interviews with people involved with nonprofit work and an examination of existing literature.

Donors can assist charities by providing more flexible support that encourages groups to experiment and reduces their fear of failure.

Read the report, Convergence: How Five Trends Will Reshape the Social Sector.

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