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7 Critical Nonprofit Trends to Follow in 2024

Can you believe it is already the middle of January? You’ve rung in the new year and, hopefully, gotten back into the rhythm of running a high-impact nonprofit. Now it’s time to start making 2024 your most successful and fulfilling year yet.


So, where do you start? In a recent article on Forbes.com, 19 Forbes Nonprofit Council members shared their predictions of top trends they believe will dominate the nonprofit sector in 2024. While you can read the entire article here, we wanted to discuss seven of these trends.


Trend 1: Nonprofit Collaboration

According to the Forbes Nonprofit Council, this year “collaboration between nonprofits will become paramount, both to move the needle on entrenched issues and to create the infrastructure needed to support the social sector.” We agree 100%.


Social-good collaboratives are a powerful force for driving long-term social change. When organizations work together, individuals and families benefit from a wider range of support and gain access to more resources to help them overcome barriers and increase their well-being. This is not a new concept. Many social-good organizations have long histories of working together to help individuals and families in their community.


What’s exciting about 2024 is that advances in research and technology have made it possible to move beyond simply collaborating to building a strong social-good infrastructure. Great collaboratives leverage technology to increase the capacity of participating organizations and dramatically improve outcomes for participants. And to build a strong social-good infrastructure, that brings us to the next trend: integrative thinking.


Trend 2: Integrative Thinking

Jennifer Friend of Project Hope Alliance shared that integrative thinking “is the only way to create a continuum of holistic approaches that successfully bring together various systems and players.” In a nutshell, high-impact leaders need to work together to design holistic solutions that help communities thrive.


One necessary component of networks that provide holistic care and services is a centralized technology platform that connects all participating organizations and enables them to view and share how they are moving the needle in their community. As more and more communities adopt collaborative models to drive social change this year, we can all learn from their progress and their increased impact on those they serve.


Trend 3: Trust-Based Giving

According to Jamee Rodgers of the Urban Neighborhood Initiative, “I believe trust-based giving will continue to grow, allowing nonprofits to be more flexible and innovative in how they leverage money to increase impact.”

The concept of trust-based philanthropy is a holistic approach based on mutual accountability for both funders and grantees. It requires alignment in a grantmaking organization’s four interrelated areas: practice, leadership, culture, and values. Funders can help their grantees by being open about what they are doing, why they are doing it, and what outcomes they are trying to improve as part of their mission. Grantees can then be equally transparent in how they are using their resources, their strategic plans for the future, and what outcomes their beneficiaries experience.


According to a recent study by The Center for Effective Philanthropy “Organizations that have received [trust-based grants] are better able to plan and execute on their missions than before they received [this] support.” That brings us to our next trend for 2024: sustainability and fiscal planning.


Trend 4: Sustainability and Fiscal Planning

“Sustainability and fiscal planning are more important than ever as we move further beyond COVID. The funding from pandemic response programs has gone away, but the level of need has only increased,” said Cortney Nicolato from the United Way of Rhode Island. She continued, “Nonprofits must double down on their sustainability efforts to ensure they continue their mission-driven work.”


Just like any for-profit business, success and sustainability in a nonprofit depends on understanding the needs of your buyers. For nonprofits, the buyers are the individuals who consume your services and the funders and donors who give financial resources because they are passionate about your cause. The need nonprofits have to focus on improving outcomes for individuals and ensuring the organization has sustainable revenue is frequently referred to as the double bottom line: the revenue bottom line vs. the social-impact bottom line. Social-good organizations must be financially healthy in order to have the needed resources to fulfill your mission. At the same time, you must focus on accomplishing your mission above all else because that is your organization’s reason for existing.


The highest-performing social-good organizations focus equally on both the social-impact and revenue bottom line, and they implement the processes and technology that create a continuous loop where both bottom lines contribute to the organization’s long-term sustainability. For example, the best way to improve your revenue bottom line is to start by improving your social-impact bottom line. Articulating your organization’s quantifiable social impact in a compelling story is a powerful way to engage stakeholders and funders. So, let’s talk about the next trend: increased storytelling.


Maureen Sedonaen from Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco shared “2024 will bring forward all the many ways storytelling and narrative are used to inspire people to action and influence change.” She continued, “This ancient way to create community, call people in and create action is now seen each day in different forms and weaves together the power of story.” This ties in directly with trend 6: impact communication.


Trend 6: Impact Communication

The story you tell about the impact you are creating is the driving force for attracting funding to sustain and even increase your mission. Dr. Sherry McAllister from Foundation for Chiropractic Progress shared “Organizations that rely on contributions from donors and members will strengthen their impact communication. It’s no secret that donors are often motivated by the impact of their donations.” McAllister continued “Nonprofits will communicate successes year-round, not just at the end of the year, using compelling storytelling to demonstrate the tangible outcomes of donations and be more transparent about where the funds go.”


For nonprofits, an impact story should combine anecdotal and quantitative evidence to help funders and stakeholders understand the changes that resulted directly and indirectly from your programming. If you want to attract funders, you must measure and share your impact story so that funders know their investment's impact.


Trend 7: Demonstration of a Return on Investment

Patrick Riccards of Driving Force Institute said “We are already seeing more and more worthy efforts competing for a relatively level pool of philanthropic dollars. It is insufficient to focus on the worthiness of our mission.” Riccards continued, “The sector needs to do a far better job quantifying impact and demonstrating results. We must show we are worthy of the trust and financial support of our donors and that we share their concerns.”


As we talked about earlier, social-good organizations need to understand the needs of your funders so you demonstrate that you are the best steward of their funds. Donors, big and small, are interested in investing their resources in services that do the most good and have the greatest impact on their communities.


Thus, nonprofits that translate outcomes and personal narratives into social return on investment (ROI) are attractive to funders because they communicate specifically what a donor’s financial contribution provides.


Conclusion

As Forbes put it, “As nonprofits now move into 2024, keeping a watchful eye on new trends and discerning which ones are here to stay will be essential to leaders ensuring their organization maintains a secure position in the sector.” Now is the time to focus on strengthening your organization to ensure long-term sustainability.


SureImpact provides the data collection and impact reporting infrastructure to meet the unique needs of social-good organizations as you work to achieve your organization’s mission and ensure sustainability. SureImpact’s simple and collaborative case management, outcome tracking, reporting, and analytics tools are designed to help you manage and measure your social impact and ensure you have impact data available in real time to share your impact story without the burden of doing everything manually.


Check out our SureImpact quick product tour to learn more.

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