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The State of the Not-for-Profit Sector in 2017

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The State of the Not-for-Profit Sector in 2017 points the way to decision-making that will sustain your organization, positioning it for long-term success.


This is a time of great potential for reaching and serving a more diverse constituency, collaborating with other organizations and private industry, and using technology more strategically. Innovative thinking will be vital to successfully moving into the future.

In this, our fourth annual State of the Not-for-Profit Sector report, we offer you our experience-based viewpoints, approaches, guidance and proposed solutions regarding important developments, challenges and opportunities facing not-for-profit leadership. While we will continue throughout the course of this year to provide webcasts, training and articles of interest, the editorial purpose of this publication is to cover the trends and issues we expect to emerge in 2017. As a leader in this sector, we believe it is our responsibility to give back to this community we serve by providing these valuable insights.

Read The State of the Not-for-Profit Sector in 2017.

Browse the report articles:

Attracting, Retaining and Gaining the Most from Millennials
To win the hearts and minds of millennials, and gain an advantage over competing organizations, it is critical to pay attention to this generation’s defining characteristics. If millennials are engaged properly, your organization can not only attract them to work for you, but also capitalize on the skills and passions that make millennials well-qualified to help your organization succeed.

Moving Beyond ERM Theory to Real-World Implementation
For as much as not-for-profit organizations have a healthy respect for risk and a desire to implement leading-edge enterprise risk management programs, many still struggle with translating the theory they find in literature into a practical and effective program. Success comes from utilizing a comprehensive, structured methodology, informed by the experience of others, to identify, evaluate, report and mitigate key risks to your organization.

Discerning Choices in Program-Related and Impact Investing
Program-related and impact investments can exert a powerful influence in today’s world. These types of investments are no longer considered niche; they are moving to the mainstream. It is time to take a closer look as they — along with needs — increase in scope and significance.

Museums and Cultural Institutions
Providing Personalized Patron Experiences
Patrons assume a more customer-centric focus and expect some tailoring to their tastes and preferences. It will take new thinking about how best to serve today’s patrons to drive attendance and foster repeat visits, attract a more diverse constituency, increase membership and build stronger connections with donors.

Furthering Engagement Through Creative Use of Social Media
Social media has always been more than just another way to disseminate information; it is about listening to what others are saying, engaging in dialogue and encouraging participation. With so many users and so many kinds of social media, the question is no longer whether to be on social media, but how to be on it in a meaningful and effective way.

Social Services
Meeting the Challenges of Rising Minimum Wages
Higher minimum wages to improve the livelihood of employees who serve the sector is certainly positive, but without increased funding, the negative effects on social service organizations could be profound. As your organization decides how to address the challenges, consider proactivity.

Planning Ahead for Deferred Building Maintenance
The concept of saving for deferred maintenance is not new, but in recent years, attention to this matter has waned in light of more pressing issues. However, we are seeing progressively minded leadership now starting to take up this cause at not-for-profit organizations.

Associations and Membership Organizations
Turning to M&A for Sustainability and Growth
With an uncertain return on investment in efforts to increase member benefits and services, an association could consider a new direction — mergers or acquisitions — to achieve financial stability and growth. Learn more about closing gaps and opening opportunities, and conducting effective tax and financial due diligence.

Driving Mission Achievement Through Cost/Revenue Modeling

The organizations most likely to succeed will be ones that can effectively assess how their use of resources contributes to the financial sustainability of their mission, and right size those resources and their deployment accordingly. It is possible to gain this more informed understanding of business operations — the relationship among costs, revenues, programs, etc. — through an activity-based cost and revenue model.

Religious Organizations
Embracing Changes in Demographics and Expectations
Faith-based organizations are experiencing significant changes among their followers, requiring these nonprofits to think differently about the way they foster religious engagement, solicit contributions, communicate with the flock and serve their communities. Transformations in religious life are a reflection of a rapidly changing secular life. Consider recommendations for more fully engaging with current and potential followers and constituents.

Preparing for Succession Planning and Leadership Challenges
Leadership changes at not-for-profit organizations can be problematic, especially with individuals who are the public face of the organization or drivers of fundraising success. Prepare for the loss of institutional knowledge, as well as for the shortage of top talent who understand the complexities of your mission and business.

Foundations
Contemplating More Direct Charitable Activities
No longer are some foundation managers satisfied with simply making grants to public charities to fulfill mission objectives. Rather, they are seeking hands-on involvement in management and operations, bringing together the resources, funding and direction needed to accomplish the charitable mission.
 
Engaging with Volunteers: Risks Accompany Benefits
Organizations must devote significant effort to attracting and retaining volunteers, and be cognizant of the risks associated with volunteer engagement, taking steps to manage those risks in order to protect the reputation, resources and ongoing mission achievement of the organization.

Jewish and Israeli Organizations
Operating Globally, Complying Locally
With headquarters in one country and representation in others, Jewish and Israeli organizations — along with other globally operating entities — need to not only continue to align with local laws and customary practices, but also comply with their changes, as well as the evolutions in global workforce rules.

Taking Steps Toward an ERP System Change
The overarching imperative to technology improvement is to cut through informational silos, connect information sources and systems, and utilize appropriate data to gain meaningful insights that will guide reporting, measure progress, manage day-to-day operations and make evidence-based strategic decisions. Enhanced enterprise resource planning capabilities are particularly vital now to improve constituent outcomes through delivery of more complete information that can drive better-informed decision-making and constituent reporting, and to identify, target, communicate and engage with the right donor population.

See also our State of Higher Education in 2017 report.
Register to replay the webcast State of the not-for-profit and higher education sectors.
Explore our 2017 webcast series for trending topics, issues and solutions.