In a recent interview with Vicki Bixel, President of Semple Bixel Associates, she noted that there are three significant new trends and emerging disrupters that nonprofit leaders must consider.

“It is no longer possible for nonprofits to ignore the impact of the tax act, the residual consequences of the political climate and the dismissive attitude toward Generation X,” she noted. Let’s examine each of these.

The impact of the tax act

Unfortunately the end of year outreach from many nonprofits continued to focus strongly on the tax deductibility of donations rather than on the organization’s critical mission.Going forward, the messaging must change. The Tax Act has made it much easier for donors to take advantage of the standard deduction, forgoing the opportunity to itemize their charitable contributions. If this trend continues as anticipated, the tax benefits will no longer apply to the vast majority of donors. If nonprofits don’t begin to frame their conversation around the importance of the gift rather than on the importance of the deduction, they will find themselves woefully behind in their fundraising efforts. In addition, they will not be as successful in building key relationships based on support for their goals, trading that instead for an emphasis on a financial transaction rather than on a shared philosophy and passion.

The residual impact of the unprecedented political climate

Point number two, says Bixel, is the increase in a newly coined phrase – rage giving. This term highlights the frustration and anxiety of many US citizens, and has them turning to political causes (like ACLU, Planned Parenthood, NAACP, and immigration issues) over their more traditional philanthropic targets, such as religious and academic institutions. As one recent headline succinctly put it, “Angry internet denizens are collectively donating millions of dollars to nonprofits in the wake of Trump’s divisive policies.” As a result of this change in donor mentality, all nonprofits will need to consider the impact on their own revenue.

The forgotten generation

With Gen Xers entering their peak earning years, Vicki reminds all nonprofits not to overlook them. This generation is fewer in number, sandwiched between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials, and easy to ignore.But those nonprofits that do not engage and empower those in Generation X will find their own revenue streams diminishing. In fact, this generation is now responsible for a majority of the donations made that are under $10,000.This is an important statistic and all nonprofits should be paying attention to influencing this demographic, and especially focus on identifying ways to build lasting commitments.

Along with the three disrupters listed here, there are also a number of issues that cannot be overlooked in 2019.Everyone in a nonprofit leadership role must help their organizations embrace the fundamentals. Often these are so obvious that they get left behind but in the wake of a tumultuous era ahead, it is important to go back to the basics and emphasize the key priorities for every organization.

These include:

  • An affinity to the mission. Does everyone in the organization understand the mission, support the mission, and articulate the mission effectively to the community?
  • A belief in the nonprofit’s leaders. Does the leadership group have the confidence and trust of the board, the staff and the community? Without belief in those driving the organization and a belief in their competencies, there can be no cohesion, no consensus and little progress.
  • Confidence in the Strategic Plan. Those empowered to support the vision and mission must have faith in the organization’s short and long term strategy. Without their loyalty and support, the mission – and ultimately the organization – will fail.
  • A focus on relationships. Internal connections with the staff members and a commitment to building strong external relationships with volunteers, clients, donors, friends, and the community at large, are essential to the sustainability of every organization. People support people they like and trust. Nonprofits must find new ways to leverage this key observation and place a priority on building effective and targeted relationships.

To conclude, Vicki offered this observation: “Today’s nonprofits face many challenges – some of these have always been difficult to navigate – but some are new obstacles that reflect technology advances, shifting politics, and regulations that are having a significant influence on the sector. But these can be addressed, and in some instances, mitigated, by leaders who are smart, strategic and sensitive to a changing world.”

Please join us on February 6, 2019 to learn more from Vicki Bixel as she presents our first quarterly nonprofit webinar of 2019. Come to our office at 1:00 for lunch to be followed at 2:00 by the program or join us remotely at 2:00. Click here to learn more.