Friday, November 21, 2008

Predicting the Future of the Nonprofit Sector

The Independent Sector hosted a session yesterday discussing predictions of the future of the nonprofit sector. I could not attend this session because I was also presenting at that time, however this morning I attended a great session where Gary Grobman from Indiana University of Pennsylvania presented his predictions of the nonprofit sector. Actually it was a follow up from his presentation four years ago when he made 7 specific predictions of the nonprofit sector. He expressed if these predictions came true (in parenthesis below).

2004 predictions of the nonprofit sector

1. More internal activities due to terrorism or fear of terrorism (not true)
One of these internal activities was using the web more. This prediction came true even without the fear of terrorism.

2. Demographics change (sort of true)
This includes but not limited to diversity of the workforce, less time for leisure and the aging of the workforce. We still have a ways to go with the diversity in the nonprofit sector.

3. New Technology (true)
This includes one stop centers, online education, online fundraising and online advocacy.

4. More govt regulation of nonprofits (somewhat true)
The IRS has cracked down on nonprofits, however due to the change in the senate nonprofits have become less of a focus at the senate level.

5. Government funding down and service demand up (true)

6. Donor attitude changes (true)
Donors are more involved in organizations, they have more control over the use of donations, are more results oriented, there is donor fatigue and more sophisticated asks.

7. Convergence of the sector (true)
This includes nonprofits more reliant on fee for service, generic employee responsibilities, and attitudes of governance.

Gary also added one more trend to this presentation -- the positive trend of nonprofit management education and the professionalization of the nonprofit sector.

Do you have any additional predictions to add to this list? What will the future of the nonprofit sector look like in four years, ten years or twenty years?

(References to follow -- when I receive a copy of Gary's paper)

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