How to be efficiently trendy
I’m often invited to speak with organizations about the latest fundraising and nonprofit trends. While I am happy to share my perspective, trends are, by nature, always changing and have varying impacts depending on your nonprofit’s function. For example, a growth or decrease in individual giving might be vitally important to your nonprofit but totally irrelevant to others (like those primarily funded by government sources.)
You, the nonprofit professional, are in the best position to determine what shifts will affect your organization the most. But time is always an issue. You really need to pick and choose what to pay close attention to, especially if you are already burning out due to your workload!
This piece has two purposes. The first is to share my view on some of the latest fundraising and nonprofit trends. Its second objective: providing suggestions for resources to stay up-to-date on trends that may affect your nonprofit.
4 notable nonprofit trends
1. Equity-centered grantmaking
A focus on equity-centered grantmaking remains a prominent theme, as many grantmakers continue to reevaluate their funding priorities—particularly through a racial equity lens. Along with many funders incorporating trust-based philanthropy practices and principles, this growing trend may affect giving to nonprofits and impact the way nonprofits are asked to share organizational information with funders.
As we experience an ongoing shift toward equity-centered grantmaking, some foundations are seeking demographic data on their grantees and nonprofit communities to track, measure, and make informed decisions about the diversity within their grantmaking portfolios. To help make standardized and centralized demographic data more freely available, Candid launched the Demographics via Candid initiative earlier this year.
2. Staffing in the new world of work
The COVID-19 pandemic led to the nonprofit sector losing at least 1.6 million jobs, or 13.2% of its workforce in 2020. But the nonprofit sector wasn’t alone. Resignations from all businesses grew, reaching a record level of four million individuals leaving their jobs in April 2021, followed by 3.9 million in June 2021.
Though employment in the nonprofit sector made a strong recovery as of 2023, returning workers are now expecting changes to “business as usual,” including better compensation, clearer job descriptions, more straightforward hiring practices, and remote work-friendly accommodations and arrangements.
3. New technology
Hands up: Who knew anything about generative AI last year? Now, who’s heard about it in the last six months? If you’re like me, you fall in the latter camp.
Generative artificial intelligence (AI) has been around for a long time, but the use of recent technologies— like ChatGPT— is new and still being explored. This trend poses two important questions: Will people embrace and use it to make complicated processes (like writing grant proposals) easier? Or will the biased side of generative AI become more dominant?
4. Retention among the newest generation of donors
One startling finding in studies on individual giving post-COVID-19 is the drop in individual giving. Since the height of the pandemic in 2021, gifts from individual donors declined by 6.4% in 2022. Many theories attempt to account for this decrease, including economic concerns like inflation and volatility in the stock market. However, this shift is happening at the same time as immense growth in donor-advised funds (DAFs)—both in terms of direct giving through DAFs (in the form of foundation grants), along with individual giving to DAFs.
Another potential driver of this change is the rise of a new generation of donors: Gen Z and Millennials—who tend to favor structured vehicles for giving, love data-driven impacts and accountability, and attempt to give sustainably.
Where to learn more: The National Philanthropic Trust tracks DAF giving, and many other financial analysts have done their own data collection and analyses on younger generations’ giving, including Fidelity, Forbes, and Blackbaud.
Stay on trend with these nonprofit resources
When time is tight, my recommendation for staying on top of nonprofit trends is to keep an eye on the most essential information sources. I often turn to Candid’s blog and Philanthropy News Digest (which also has a searchable collection of “news from other sources”) to stay current on the nonprofit landscape.
For an easy way to stay up-to-date, sign up for Candid’s newsletter. You’ll get the latest get trends in philanthropy, educational tips and training, and up-to-date research insights delivered straight to your inbox every two weeks.
As a librarian, I would be remiss if I didn’t say: Never sell short all the free resources at your local public library. After all, local public librarians know where to find the most useful information and are happy to help!
Did we miss a good resource? We’d love to hear what your go-to, data-driven resources are and which key sources of information you look to. Share them in the comments section below.