By working on both sides of the ‘philanthropy wall’, Starfish Impact team members have the unique ability to understand what nonprofits and their funders want. A common question we get is, ‘what’s coming down the pike in philanthropy?” In this three part post, we’ll describe a few of the philanthropy trends we expect, and how nonprofits can best position themselves in anticipation of them.
- Increase in Giving. Although giving is expected to increase slightly this year, the number of funders is actually expected to go down. As our country sees an increasingly large gap between the one percent, and everyone else, there’s also a consolidation within the one percent. Knowing this, nonprofits should anticipate hiring and focusing resources at the top of the pyramid. For example, hiring major gift officers instead of annual fund managers. Similarly, high end and personal touches will go a long way to cultivate this part of the pyramid, which is becoming smaller and more critical.
- Collaboration. This may be a trend you’re familiar with, but collaboration among nonprofits is something funders not only want to see, but are frequently demanding. Nonprofits that submit requests to foundations on the same program area as another nonprofit during the same round of funding may both be denied. But we’re also seeing increasing collaboration among funders. For example, in 2015, the GEO conference theme was actually collaboration. Similarly, executive directors and Board members are required to attend Annenberg Alchemy together in order to receive the funding – which comes from a consortium of funders. How can you utilize this? Get to know your foundation funders better. Find out what other foundations they like to partner with and begin a relationship with them. Begin discussing new or revamped programs in context of how the ‘funding community’ can do x.
- Election Year. With this year being a presidential election year, you may expect that there would be a decrease in funding for nonprofits with the idea that donors will just divert some of their regular charitable allotment to the election. But it actually turns out to not be true. Those that politically give, tend to be heavily issue focused, and give more to the nonprofits that can show how their organization aligns with the issues. Election years offer the opportunity for nonprofits to emphasize the national importance of the issue and how their programs best address them. Additionally, nonprofits can time communication to drop during naturally occurring political events. An example of this is an organization that has diversity focused programming and during the ‘Oscars So White’ media frenzy, they strategically pushed their content out. Bear in mind that nonprofits can’t support candidates without getting into trouble, but issues, like get out the vote, for example, can be okay. Be sure to check with your lawyer or tax advisor before starting any advocacy or lobbying to avoid putting your nonprofit status at risk.
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