Technology to help reshape nonprofits in 2013

Staff Report
Published Jan. 9, 2013

The CEO of nonprofit software and services company Blackbaud said expectations have changed for nonprofits and their supporters, which will impact giving and how donors and organizations interact over the coming year.

“In 2013, nonprofits must adjust to operate within the new normal of uncertainty created by persistent economic and regulatory challenges amidst a shifting supporter demographic,” said President and CEO Marc Chardon in a news release about trends impacting the nonprofit sector. “But while challenges certainly exist for the nonprofit sector, there are also opportunities for organizations to use technology to deliver on their missions in a very effective, scalable and real-time way.”

For example, Blackbaud said charitable giving is not likely to increase much this year, and technology will play an increasingly important role for all stakeholders.

Nonprofit sector trends in 2013

Charitable giving won’t increase dramatically
Charitable giving in 2012 was relatively flat, according to The Blackbaud Index, and given the slow economic recovery, 2013 likely won’t be different, the company said. Fundraising in the U.S. has been about 2% of GDP for the past 40 years, so with a depressed economy and lower GDP, donors tend to support fewer organizations perceived to be higher in quality.

Nonprofit sector to undergo revaluing
Blackbaud said cultural shifts are changing how nonprofits are being viewed that will ultimately benefit the sector.

“The debate about the charitable deduction puts the value of the sector’s contribution squarely in the public consciousness,” the company said. “A growing number of people are seeking careers with meaning as baby boomers start second careers in the nonprofit sector, and millennials seek degrees in nonprofit management.”

Blackbaud said the label “nonprofit” is increasingly viewed as a tax status, not a business model. The company thinks there’s a merging of nonprofit and for-profit business practices that will bring together “sustainability and effectiveness in operations along with mission-driven passion.”

Technology to play major role for nonprofits and supporters
Mobile, cloud computing, big data and customer management software tools are expected to provide nonprofits a wider view of supporters, Blackbaud said, and will be essential to being successful.

In its State of the Nonprofit Industry report, Blackbaud said 2013 will be the year nonprofits go from testing the mobile experience to delivering the mobile experience. The company said most nonprofits plan to double the use of mobile technologies.

“In many ways, this is an exciting time to be a nonprofit professional,” Chardon said. “With the evolution of mobile, social and cloud-based technologies, organizations can interact in very meaningful ways with both supporters and beneficiaries around the world. And the increased efficiency will ensure greater delivery of missions in real time.”

Immediacy of global disasters broadens philanthropic borders
Geography doesn’t matter as much in 2013. When disasters happen anywhere, supporters and donors are starting to react in a very similar fashion regardless of location, Blackbaud said. With a shift in economic prosperity to developing nations and countries such as Brazil, Russia, India and China, nonprofits have to rethink how they raise money and “go where the donors are,” Blackbaud said, because competition for resources increase as the world flattens.

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