Nonprofit organizations play a crucial role in addressing societal challenges, building communities and driving positive change, which was never more apparent than during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the pandemic in the rearview mirror and an increasingly competitive landscape, nonprofits must adopt strategic thinking and embrace innovative approaches to ensure their long-term sustainability.
In the pursuit of their mission, nonprofits often find themselves caught up in short-term objectives. Instead, nonprofits should keep their long-term plans front of mind. Bank of America Endowment and Foundation Specialist Michael Wagschal noted that the nonprofits that survived (and sometimes thrived) through the pandemic were those that remained calm and adhered to their long-term plans.
By focusing on the future, nonprofits can proactively adapt to changing circumstances, develop sustainable programs and achieve lasting impact. Long-term planning involves setting clear goals with donors and the board of directors, embracing flexible work, knowing when to be lean and retaining long-term donors.
KEEP LONG-TERM DONORS ENGAGED
While one-time and short-term donors remain an important part of any nonprofit’s fundraising campaign, long-term donors are the true lifeblood of nonprofit organizations.
Nonprofits must invest in and be aware of donor retention strategies in addition to new donor acquisition. Donor retention strategies can include personalized communication and regular updates on impact.
Another aspect of donor retention is being respectful and considerate of donors’ current situations. As the economy remains unstable, some donors may not be able to contribute as they did previously. In these cases, it can be especially beneficial to provide opportunities for engagement to foster a sense of connection.
RETAIN CURRENT EMPLOYEES AND ATTRACT NEW ONES
Employee retention has become increasingly difficult, and nonprofits need to explore creative new ways to provide benefits to their employees. This can include access to meditation apps, counseling services and opportunities to upskill. Considering the wellness of employees as a whole and providing breaks for mental health can go a long way in encouraging current employees to remain.
Nonprofits should also consider where and how their employees work. GHJ Search and Staffing Practice Leader Derrick Coleman notes that some of his clients who have difficulty recruiting executive positions struggle with geographical limitations. With the evolving landscape, nonprofits should consider remote work, especially when recruiting executives, as this created significantly more opportunities to hire those who truly fit the organization’s goals and mission.
Another aspect of the employee experience that is often not considered is the impact of technological advancements (or lack thereof). Working at a nonprofit organization that uses outdated technologies can create frustration for employees as they feel left behind in comparison to colleagues at other organizations. Employees may feel inclined to make a switch to stay on top of industry updates.
Technological advancements have revolutionized the way organizations operate, and nonprofits should leverage these tools to streamline their processes and become more efficient.
Online fundraising platforms and data analytics tools enable nonprofits to expand their reach and make data-driven decisions. As such, it is paramount that nonprofits that have outgrown their current software explore opportunities to switch to a more advanced program with better tools to allow better insight into the health of the organization.
In addition to technology’s evolution, the way donors are providing funds to nonprofit organizations is also shifting. Some donors are now donating cryptocurrencies and other digital assets. This comes with its own challenges, as nonprofits must consider the fluctuating value of digital assets. However, due to the nature of these assets and their fluctuating valuations, Michael Wagschal recommends selling these assets via a third party as soon as they are received and developing a fluid policy to deal with such donations.
CAPITALIZE ON ECONOMIC UNCERTAINTIES
Economic downturns can pose significant challenges for nonprofits, as they often rely on donor contributions and grants. However, there are opportunities to plan for success even in uncertain periods.
As inflation and interest rates continue to sow economic uncertainty, Kennedy Wilson Property Services Commercial Real Estate Advisor Max Browne recommends leveraging the low rates and renewing office space leases early. As many continue to work from home, office spaces are no longer in demand, and many landlords will likely take a lower rate while ensuring a longer lease term.
Max notes that this could be the perfect time to move to locations previously out of the organization’s financial reach as office spaces begin to lower in price.
In an ever-changing landscape, nonprofits must adopt a long-term mindset by implementing policies and strategies focused on long-term success, implementing new technologies and utilizing the economic downturn to the organization’s advantage. As nonprofits continue to champion their causes, it is crucial to adapt, innovate and build resilient organizations that make a lasting impact in the communities they serve.
To learn more about how to plan for the future and prepare for success, contact GHJ’s Nonprofit Practice.