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6 trends nonprofits should follow in 2017


Why should only corporates follow market trends and insights? The nonprofit sector is an integral part of the economy, ensuring the best for the bottom of the pyramid section of our society and it very much needs to embrace the industry trends and best practices to create more impact. The Philanthropy Outlook 2016 & 2017 predicts that total giving will increase by 4.3% in 2017 as compared to 2015. Whether it's making your voice heard on social media networks, nurturing relationships with donors, engaging volunteers, or planning creative outreach projects, these trends will take you a long way to break through the clutter!


Trend #1: Leverage the power of storytelling- Storytelling will become an important marketing tool in 2017 to drive donor engagement and infuse the audience with the spirit of giving by connecting with them on an emotional level.

You need to make your audience feel the impact created by their contribution. This in turn will motivate them to extend support in terms of both funds and time, encouraging them to engage other people for this cause.  

Use the following ways to tell a compelling story-

  • Short video testimonials of people who are being benefited
  • ​Live streaming of project execution on Facebook and Instagram
  • ​Animated videos explaining the cause of your non-profit
  • Webinars with celebrity donors and volunteers
  • User generated content from your volunteer teams and well wishers
  • Blog posts and videos by influencers who support your nonprofit’s cause

Tell a story in a personalized way which resonates with the audience, stirring them enough to take action!


Trend 2#: Use of technology for volunteer management and donations-  Technology is changing the way we live in a phenomenal way, speeding things up and leading the way to seamless execution of projects. Recruiting, onboarding, and communicating for various projects with follow up with volunteers takes up a lot of time. Nonprofits are embracing new age technology and software to efficiently manage their volunteers and nurture their volunteer relationships.

Mobile marketing and apps are the buzzwords in the market and the nonprofit sector is adopting this by simplifying the donation process. Crowdfunding platforms and apps are expected to become more prominent for fundraising social causes. The 2016 nonprofits benchmark study reveals that $481 million were collected through online donations.This reflects the donor’s preferences for online donations and triggers the need to focus on mobile optimization best practices for nonprofits.


Trend #3: Build a powerful board member team- It’s always good to add new members to the board team as they bring in fresh perspectives and a wider network which can be approached for fundraising. A new pool of talent to look into in 2017 who have networking expertise and are equally passionate are the Gen X and Millennials. They can inject novel ideas and bring in the much needed innovative approach in raising funds and organizing fundraising events.  Look into your donor and constituent pools to start from, but definitely include a good number of Gen X and Millennials in your team.

Trend #4: Redefine engagement methods - A phone call or in-person meeting does wonders rather than just an an email, text, or a social media post. There is an information overload on all social media platforms and people see at least 10 ads in a minute!

Even if they see your post, how long will they be inspired? As more and more brands and nonprofits compete to be heard, engagement on social media is expected to drop even further.

Make an effort to connect in person, by phone, or on a hangout once every fortnight with your volunteer community! Connect at a personal level, share your experiences, listen to their stories, inputs, ideas and bond with them as real friends. Plan picnics and lunches once in awhile to have fun together while everyone else connects to others in the team. At heart, we all yearn for some love and support from one another. Give that and it will pay you back in boundless ways! Build authentic volunteer relationships.


Trend #5: Invest in training for your staff- According to Master Major Gifts report , nonprofits who invested in training saw an increase of $37,000 in revenue for each form of training. Invest in fundraising, marketing, social media, networking, and project planning training for your entire staff and team of volunteers. Each of them can then be brand advocates and true representatives of your nonprofit and spread the word across their network. With so much happening across the nonprofit sector, it’s essential to be updated with new techniques and trends to be able to do the best for your nonprofit. A good idea would be to invite each of your volunteer team members to share a skill in which they are experts.

Trend #6: Collaboration with social justice movements- A movement is all it takes to revolutionize the cause. The #BlackLivesMatter movement was phenomenal at creating buzz on social media -- drawing the media’s attention and becoming a hot topic in political debates. In the coming years, collaboration and partnerships with other networks are going to be the path for spreading the word and moving people to action. It is time for nonprofits to break out of organizational silos and collaborate with communities, schools, universities, and other organizations to drive action and create more impact.


Let’s kick start 2017 by working in tandem with these trends!


About the author:

Venkat Dulipalli is the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of VolunteerMark

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