Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Nonprofit Knowledge Matters | Nonprofit Trends to Watch in 2015

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Nonprofit Trends in 2015
True confessions: While scanning the horizons for “new” trends to highlight for nonprofit staffs, boards, donors, and other community leaders to watch, we recognized that what’s important this year is not necessarily brand new. Some of the trends we identified last year, such as an increase in online giving, are fast becoming the “norm.” Others that are becoming more deeply entrenched, namely the “resource squeeze” and growing needs in communities, will continue to significantly influence how charitable nonprofits deploy limited resources and prioritize throughout 2015.

What about the policy front? Among many other things, we anticipate that state and local governments are likely to continue attempts to fill their own budget holes by demanding payments from tax-exempt charitable nonprofits, while at the same time expecting nonprofits to fill the service gaps when governments walk away from programs to meet growing needs in communities. This highlights the need for nonprofits to advocate more, or else accept the imposition of new taxes, fees, and demand for payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs) by governments that essentially take money away from nonprofit missions.

We are cautiously optimistic to report positive movement on twotrends we noted in 2014:
  • A gradual shift to reject negative views of overhead, and a willingness to recognize that to be more efficient, effective, and sustainable, nonprofits need to incur – and be paid for – overhead (or “indirect”) costs that are necessary to advance their missions.
  • A growing awareness that advocacy is essential to advancing a nonprofit’s mission.
Both of these trends, reinforced by continuous attention to the importance of accountability and transparency, will help promote practices that result in more sustainable and effective nonprofits.

Nonprofit Trends to Watch in 2015
Our network, composed of state associations of nonprofits - each working with hundreds and sometimes thousands of local nonprofits - is uniquely qualified to learn about the constraints, opportunities, and leadership imperatives that are unfolding in real time as they affect individuals and communities, charitable nonprofits and board members. Analyzing patterns as they emerge across the country also informs the process we use to develop a comprehensive local/state/federal Public Policy Agenda each year, one that nonprofits can use either as is or as their own first draft to customize. And throughout the year through this newsletter and our other publications, as well as our website resources on nonprofit trends, we aim to equip those who lead charitable nonprofits, as well as those who invest in their missions, with information needed to protect and advance those nonprofits’ missions.

Back by popular demand, we’re pleased to share this annual list of Nonprofit Trends to Watch in 2015.

For a more in-depth look at these trends, and how the National Council of Nonprofits and our network of state associations of nonprofits are responding, we invite you to read our new blog.

Of course, the best ways to stay on top of new and continuing trends that affect your nonprofit are to join your state associationand stay connected with our network through social media.

What Are You Seeing?

You can help add clarity – and insights that can result in policy changes and meaningful tools to help your nonprofit and others – by participating in two important surveys: 
  • Nonprofit Finance Fund is conducting its seventh annual nationwide survey examining the state of the nonprofit sector, and we hope that you will take a few minutes to share your experiences. The survey, which is anonymous and takes about 10-15 minutes to fill out, collects data on challenges and trends among nonprofits. The results help illustrate the vitality of the sector in your state and across the country, define the challenges that we all face, and provide information that advances our collective advocacy work. Please take the survey and share it with other nonprofits in your network! 
  • Tell the IRS How It Can Improve Form 990. A special external advisory committee to the IRS (the “Exempt Organizations Subcommittee of the IRS Advisory Committee on Tax Exempt and Governmental Entities,” or ACT) is preparing a report to the IRS on ways Form 990 can be improved and is seeking your feedback. As nonprofits, you are responsible for filling out these forms annually and are affected by the way the information is displayed to donors, funders, reporters, and others. This survey is an opportunity to let the IRS know what is working and what should be improved to better communicate the finances and impact of your organization. Your responses to this 5-10 minute survey can make a difference for our sector. 

The culture shift about costs

The culture shift about nonprofit advocacy

The shift of government burdens to nonprofits

Testimony Before Congress(National Council of Nonprofits)

What’s ahead in 2015?

Five Policy Moves to Watch in 2015 (Chronicle of Philanthropy)

Words to Know in the New Year(Social Impact Architects) 

Your Voices
Last month, we asked if your nonprofit received a capacity building grant in the last year. Here's what you said:

This month, instead of a poll from us, we encourage you to share your experiences in the two important surveys noted to the left.

Worth Exploring

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