The Wethos Collective -- Blog

5 Trends to Rock Our Nonprofit World in 2019

Posted by Amber Smith on Feb 4, 2019 9:28:40 AM
Amber Smith
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In 2018, nonprofit rockstars helped their communities navigate hurricanes, scandal, and violence. “Justice” was declared the word of the year, according to Merriam-Webster, and a lot of good things happened, too. As we always do, we went into the fray, built up our collective muscles for change-making, and led the charge to make the world a way better place because we know it can be. In 2019, we’ll see some of the foundations we’ve been building sprout results and spark movement. Here are 5 trends we predict will impact our impact-makers in 2019:


1. More people will see the awesome power of nonprofits and step up to serve.

At the time of writing this article, the United States government is in Day 29 of a partial shutdown, the longest in the nation’s history (Update: 2019 government shutdown lasted a total of 35 days). Public faith in government is at a historic low, and people are generally uncertain what the future will hold -- who will take care of peoples’ critical needs, security, and our environment?

We will, of course. We, meaning the American people. At our best, it’s what we do: We step up, in one form or another -- whether that means taking on challenging but fulfilling careers in the nonprofit sector or getting up early with your kids to go pick up litter on the trail because park staff were sent home during the shutdown.

Lily Tomlin famously said, “I always wondered why somebody doesn’t do something about that. Then I realized I was somebody.” People are starting to realize they are somebody, too. And if they’re smart, nonprofits can funnel this energy into greatness.

What this means for Nonprofit Marketing, Volunteer, and Development Pros:

I know. Nonprofits have been coming to the rescue, filling gaps in the market since the dawn of our existence. But now is the time for those critical efforts to be seen. Really seen. So get ready to capitalize on your community’s can-do spirit! Offer unique opportunities to get involved that give people a sense of power. If you work for an organization serving a cause impacted by the shutdown or its aftermath, rally a group of volunteers (like these awesome folks) and give them the chance to work out their frustrations with the current situation through service. Then, send out a press release and post on social media to showcase your efforts and use the interest in the stories of the shutdown to get a light shining on your amazing work. When you empower people and show them they have the capacity to control what happens here, they’ll become your greatest allies, volunteers, and donors.


2. The wage gap will take a bigger hit. 

With a record number of women recently elected to Congress, a spotlight is shining more brightly than ever on the notion of women as leaders, sparking dialogue about their immense capacity and poise in positions of power. As the general public continues to get cozy with the value of females at the forefront, we can be optimistic that that pesky wage gap - you know, the one that plagues even the nonprofit world - will take a big hit in 2019.

Despite their awesome superpowers, nonprofits haven’t been exempt from issues of gender equality, and are only recently showing signs of progress. According to the 2018 Guidestar Compensation report, the median compensation for female nonprofit CEOs is still lagging behind that of male peers across all organization sizes. In 2018, that gap ranged from 4 percent to a 20 percent. The good news? Those numbers indicate some movement; in 2005, the gap ranged from 17 to 25 percent.

Rockstar women leaders of nonprofits whose missions involve helping other women and girls rise up -- like Girls Who Code, Higher Heights, and Essie Justice Group, are a triple threat. They showcase the power of women in power, amplify the lives of other women, and value compensating women appropriately. The fact that more women are also leading nonprofits than a decade ago paired with the spectacular and highly televised rise of women leaders means we predict this gap will continue to shrivel and shrink.


What this means for Nonprofit Professional Women and Hiring Managers:

If you’re a woman working in nonprofits, make sure you know your worth. Review compensation reports, stay on top of articles related to salaries and benefits in comparable organizations and roles, and get a clear understanding of your organization’s annual budget and what it might be able to bear should you decide to negotiate for a raise. If you are in a position in your organization that enables you to influence hiring and salary decisions for other women, make sure you’re up on the latest research on the correlation between turnover and low salaries.

There’s no doubt about it: Turnover is frustrating, interrupts critical programs, and costs the organization money. A report from the Center for American Progress calculated that refilling empty positions can cost 20 percent of that position’s salary. Imagine, instead, offering a compensation package at 10 percent higher than you currently do, but resting easy in the knowledge that your team members will stick around longer! Feeling particularly saucy? Consider bringing on an outside freelance team to create a report comparing salaries in comparable local organizations and roles to make your case to your Board of Directors.

3. New tax laws hindering giving will challenge nonprofits to explore new revenue streams - and the world will rejoice.

Remember those changes to the tax law that many predicted would hit charitable giving hard from 2018 on? At this stage in 2019, we’re still examining the results -- but one thing is for sure: Nonprofits, ready for potential trouble, are getting more creative when it comes to identifying new potential revenue streams and business models to help sustain their work. And that’s a good thing.

With the exploration and adoption of new revenue models for nonprofits will come a long-awaited breakthrough on that Overhead Myth thing. Dan Pallotta’s famous TED talk, “The Way You Think About Charity Is Dead Wrong” now approaches its sixth year floating around on the internet and it has been five years since Guidestar, Charity Navigator, and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance teamed up to urge the public to reconsider its notions of “overhead”. Now, the message is finally starting to make traction in circles of funders and donors, the government, and mainstream news. Surely, 2019 will be the year the Overhead Myth became Over-With.

What this means for Nonprofit Development Pros:

Check out how fellow nonprofits are examining ways to partner up with one another to tackle issues with greater collective resources and power and improve their donor retention strategies -- you know that it’s easier to receive support from a past donor than to cultivate a new donor. And in an extremely exciting turn of events, “impact investing” groups (think of platforms that allow everyday people to invest in an organization’s outcomes and see both programmatic and financial returns like they would in a business) are getting bolder and piloting the first ever Direct Public Offerings with TechSoup to test the model. Imagine the potential for the sector when impact investing succeeds and captures the imagination of an donation-exhausted public! Get ahead of it and ask your team how can you capitalize on this incoming strategy.

4. Environmental concerns will impact the way nonprofits do business.

News and data about climate change has been out there for years, but recent reports, issued by the US Government, seem to be packing a bigger punch in public perception than previously. Naturally, environmental-mission nonprofits are among the top organizations working on climate change and conservation. But now, nonprofits whose main charge has nothing to do with the environment are stepping up to help out, like Goodwill and Salvation Army, who are expanding their thrift shop operations for profit and planet. Save the world: It’s what we do.

What this means for Nonprofit Program, Marketing, and Development Pros:

If you’re not already in it, it’s time to join the fray, whether your organization directly tackles environmental and climate change concerns or not. If you’re savvy, you may already be aware of the numerous ways helping the environment can help other aspects of your cause. Your nonprofit advocating for public transportation so the people you serve can have greater access to jobs and amenities, for example, has a lovely side effect of reducing greenhouse gas emissions -- But don’t just quietly note this as an added bonus to your work, delight your donors and sponsors by shouting it from the rooftops as a way your mission has an even greater impact! While some may view “going green” as an expensive burden, innovative nonprofit pros can pluck out ways to capitalize on increasing interest in climate change to activate new networks of potential donors. Get creative: Rally new donor support to greenify your building or seek out fresh sponsors to make your special events more green. The planet will thank you for it.

5. Nonprofits will accommodate more remote work.

According to the 2018 NTEN Digital Adoption Report, 41 percent of nonprofit staff are telecommuting, working from home, or doing much of their work outside the office. Meanwhile,  the remote work trend continues to grow across industry in general. Compounding on the trend is the notion that permitting more remote work may become a necessary job perk for nonprofits, seeing as how we’re still struggling as a sector to keep up with salary needs relative to inflation.

What this means for Nonprofit Directors and Managers:

Make sure you're ready to accommodate a remote team. There’s no time like the present to beef up the way your team communicates, reports to one another, and stays accountable. Check out available tools and technology to power remote team collaboration, discussion, and project management (Wethos takes care of that part for you). To make a difference, organizations need to capitalize on fast-moving market opportunities that require high-capability, and fast-moving execution. And do it in a way that makes every penny count: Scope out opportunities to benefit from the cost-saving work of remote freelancers that work in the skills you need at any given time. After all, remote work can have some pretty neat side effects for employee productivity, morale, attracting talent, and even helping with that climate change thing we were talking about before.

The world is evolving at a rapid pace. But we’re not worried; change is what we nonprofit pros do. Join our growing collective of badass professional do-gooders for more insights on how to lead your cause to greatness throughout 2019. 

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Topics: Impact, Nonprofit Leaders, Capacity Building, Trends, Remote Work