This month we talked about the biggest nonprofit trends we’re seeing. While some trends have been simmering in the background for quite some time and are now rapidly gaining steam, others are brand new to the nonprofit world.
Find out what’s going on the frontlines of nonprofits across the country right now to better strategize for next year:
1. Unionized Workplaces
Across nonprofits there is a growing trend of unionizing, especially at smaller organizations. Why now? The feedback from employees is that managers are not listening to requests for additional resources and demands for appropriate pay and/or better working conditions. This is adding to the workload for Executive Directors as they try to navigate this difficult topic because unionization changes relationships between management and the rest of the organization. Of course, nonprofit boards all want to know, is this a good change or a bad change? It depends on whose perspective you want to take and what the particulars are for each individual organization. Only time will tell what kind of an effect it will have on the nonprofit landscape as a whole.
2. Employee Management Challenges
Where unionization is occurring employee management has grown more complicated, but even where employees are not in a union, managing employees has changed significantly. There is still the question of whether staff should be in the office or if remote work is better from a productivity and job satisfaction standpoint. And organizations are still struggling to find ways to build culture in hybrid work environments. Overcoming the “us vs them” rift between in-person and remote staff is a very real challenge that threatens to divide and weaken nonprofits with increased tensions. Furthermore, new laws and regulations have created additional challenges for leadership and HR personnel, often necessitating that they bring in a third-party resource to help them manage staff.
3. Reduced Tenure for Executive Directors
Widescale retirements mean that the people on the job now typically have fewer years in the industry than their predecessors. And, to compound matters, those people are not staying in the role as long anymore! Soon there will be a scarcity of Executive Directors because young people just don’t want the job now that it has grown more complex and carries a higher profile, even at smaller organizations.
4. Better Onboarding
Organizations that do find a capable Executive Director when they have a vacancy are discovering that they have a lot more work to do in successfully onboarding someone new. The board and even staff are taking ownership over bringing a new leader on during a leadership transition. As a result, there is a stronger push to get to know leaders personally to create the kind of connection that will encourage them to stay.
5. Continued Burn Out
Front line workers are burnt out, but this is not new news! Burn out due to compassion fatigue has always been a pitfall of doing nonprofit work but has really reached a crescendo post-pandemic. While everyone thought it would subside the further COVID got in our rearview mirror, it has remained high and is showing no signs of decreasing.
6. Doing Less to Do More
Refining efforts to do less but do things better as a result is happening as much out of necessity as it is out of idealism. In many cases organizations simply do not have the staff needed to do all they used to, so they have to pare down. As a result, many organizations are focusing resources on their core programming for their core audiences instead of trying to do too much and spreading staff and resources too thin in the process.
7. Pushing Back on Funders
The era of “creative reporting” to satisfy compliance requirements on “Donor Restricted Donations” has come to an end. Nonprofit leadership has shifted from appeals to “fund this program” to calls to “fund our mission.” This shift to unrestricted donations gives the organization more latitude to be creative and to focus on the impact they are having as opposed to defending specific programs, not because they are effective, but because they are funded.
As organizations refine their offerings, they are becoming more closely focused on defined missions. Today’s nonprofits are more likely than before to do one thing and do it well! As a result, more and more organizations are taking an approach of asking for funding and promising to deliver with a “we know what we need, just give us the money” kind of perspective. They are pushing their own agenda and asking for help with it versus taking money and letting funders control their direction or purpose.
8. Organizational Introspection
Lastly, today’s organizations are more apt to look internally to ensure that they are not perpetuating the same kinds of problems they are trying to solve. In particular, leadership is prioritizing setting a good example for staff and pledging to reduce systemic biases. This is a much overdue change!
Here at Valtas we’re committed to helping nonprofits find success so that they can better serve their communities and further their missions. So, you tell us what you want to hear about next! Which of these top trends do you want to see us go into more depth about this fall? Shoot us a message or email Dave Lennox, our Managing Partner, to let us know and help shape the nonprofit resources we’re offering to our readers and partners. Thank you for being a part of our community!
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