As the world emerges from lockdown, many leaders wonder what kind of lasting impact Coronavirus will have on the nonprofit sector. While we expect some changes to be temporary, others have the potential to shape the future of the industry.
The Rise of the Tech-Savvy Nonprofit: As we move forward, we will continue to see an increase in technology use and investment by nonprofits, including constituent relationship management (CRM) software, digital marketing, including email newsletters, crowdfunding, peer-to-peer online campaigns and more. The future of work is digitalized and personalized.
Organizations that increase their reliance on tech, to manage challenges like working remotely and hosting virtual events, will fast-track their company’s technology adoption and advancement and be able to find new supporters and donations in new places.
Technology enables teams to apply 3Cs important to teamwork: communication, collaboration, and consistency, regardless of location. So even if your team is far away or in a different time zone, collaboration is not only possible but efficient. Data security also improves as nonprofits embrace technology. You don’t need that old file cabinet with a lock and key when you have secure data in the cloud.
Flexible Work Schedules and Distributed Teams: As many nonprofits shift to remote work to reduce on-site health risk while eliminating the overhead cost of office space, we will see the industry accommodate work-life balance and flexible schedules more than ever before. The pandemic has changed the way we think about our work, employees and our nonprofit’s meaning.
Online Events and Experiences: Virtual events are here to stay, so integrate them into your strategic plan by leveraging video conferencing for meetings, workshops and conferences. If you are hosting an in-person meeting, consider adding a virtual option. Some companies like Spatial are pioneering actual VR meetings which we predict will become common in the future of work.
Success Through Crowdfunding: While direct giving may be hit or miss, crowdfunding and viral social media campaigns are on the rise. Nonprofits will host more giving campaigns and need tools and channels to get the message out.
Appointment Scheduling Instead of Waiting in Line: As the virus becomes a part of our daily lives, we will continue to see people schedule time slots to receive services and control traffic flow so groups do not congregate in lines and waiting rooms. Safety is of the utmost importance to nonprofits and those volunteering in partnership with them.
People will return to volunteering in person, but perhaps in a limited capacity. Make it easier to volunteer with you by having all your ducks in a row: tight scheduling, smaller groups, clear communication about your mission and goals and how people can help, and more efficient use of people’s time when you can get it. In the meantime:
Data-Driven Decision-Making: The need for data clarity and accuracy- to enable quick and easy communication with the right audience at the right time will become essential. Link to CRM blog post here and helpful NPE features. A higher volume of online events can translate into more noise for your audience. A good CRM with accurate data can help you communicate with those you need to while avoiding over-communication.
Decline in Volunteerism: As people react to crisis and continue to feel cautious about leaving the house, events and volunteer opportunities will be on the decline. Nearly half of recent volunteers surveyed believe they will spend less time volunteering or may stop volunteering completely due to the pandemic.
But while you may not get a big presence for an in-person service day or an all-day board meeting, keep in mind that this temporary trend provides an excellent opportunity to teach volunteers how to make a difference from home, through virtual get-togethers, in small family groups, or with social distancing measures in place. Be creative with the opportunities you offer your team to connect and remind them of your greater mission and purpose.
The Pressing Need for Relief: The reactive nature of relief efforts will subside, and organizations will level out where we can plan, prepare and achieve greater impact. That’s encouraging news but right now we must focus our efforts on creating immediate relief and providing for basic needs in the areas that matter most.
Hiring and Spending Freezes: Finances are always top-of-mind, but with the pandemic came drastic budget and personnel cuts leaving the remaining workforce to take on more work and responsibility (sometimes for less pay), but the resiliency of the nonprofit industry was evident.
Decline in Donations: Nearly all nonprofits have struggled in one way or another due to the pandemic and 67% of nonprofit leaders surveyed say they have seen declines in charitable giving. Managers at over 42% of charities providing a direct service to those impacted by COVID-19 say they have seen a drop in donations and an increase in expenses. On the other hand, crowdfunding platforms have seen a huge increase in campaigns and donations as communities rally around not just COVID-19 response, but racial justice protests and activities.
COVID-19 is a tragic and unforeseen global crisis. But as with all crises, it has forced some positive change and innovation. What changes have you seen in your organization? Where could you use the most help? We want to hear from you, we are here to provide a platform for our audience. Answers may be featured in a future article.
Read how Bridge the Gap College Prep rallied a California community in response to COVID-19 using Lumaverse solutions.