The Biggest Challenges for Nonprofits: Four Strategies to Overcome Your Worst Nightmares

Mar 30, 2021 | Articles

Running a successful nonprofit is no easy task. From ever-changing regulations to significantly increased competition for donors and volunteers, nonprofits face a multitude of unique hurdles as they look to the future. But overcoming these issues makes success that much more rewarding.

Read on for an overview of the biggest priorities facing today’s nonprofit organizations and some helpful solutions to address them.

Challenge #1: The changing face of fundraising
Event fundraising is critical to most nonprofits, and with the adjustments created by the pandemic, donations have been directly impacted. Even in a post-COVID world, social distancing will likely remain in place for a while and traditional events as we knew them may not return for some time. Many organizations are concerned that this decline in fundraising will create a significant gap in financial forecasts. But even though it may not be possible to host in-person events, your fundraising drivers don’t necessarily have to go out the window; instead, adapt them to the current realities. Online fundraising was already on the rise before the COVID crisis. In 2019, for example, U.S. online fundraising revenues rose 10% from the year-over-year growth seen in 2018. This is the time to continue to leverage technology that doesn’t require people to be in physical close contact, such as online classes and virtual auctions.

Challenge #2: Faltering retention of donors and members 
The COVID-19 pandemic ushered in the era of “nice to have” vs. “need to have”. Individuals and organizations are still adapting to this new economic reality. For nonprofits, particularly among membership organizations and associations, it means members are scrutinizing how they spend their money and are carefully evaluating the value they’re receiving in return. Even tenured constituents are now assessing their usage of benefits and calculating the cost before making renewal decisions. Similarly, donors are tending to be more careful with their purse strings. Bolster your retention rate with smart strategies that encourage renewals and contributions, such as the adoption of flexible payment options, solid onboarding processes, and an inviting web presence that makes it easy to see why joining or donating is a smart investment.

Challenge #3: Mission creep
Mission creep is one of the most common threats in the nonprofit sector. Making decisions solely on impulses or short-term benefits isn’t the best approach for organizations focused on prolonged sustainability. When actions based on established missions, objectives, and values go by the wayside in favor of what feels right at the moment, it can result in the overextension of internal resources, causing established processes to become ineffective and produce erosion in brand perception. To prevent mission creep in your organization, start by addressing your mission and ensure that it’s sustainable over time. Communicate often and effectively with both internal and external organizational stakeholders to keep everyone on the same page. Focusing your efforts on effective decision-making processes and adhering to your defined organizational plan is the best way to avoid mission creep in the future.

Challenge #4: Technology shortfalls 
By their very nature, nonprofit organizations must put their emphasis on mission-driven initiatives such as fundraising, program development, volunteers, and staffing. Budgetary constraints often cause technology to be given a lower priority, which can create difficulties, especially in light of today’s growing cybersecurity threats. According to the Nonprofit Priorities Benchmark 2020 Report, only 15% of organizations in the nonprofit sector use cloud-based accounting or fundraising solutions, although they’re aware of and appreciate its many benefits. They often lag behind for-profits in having their websites optimized for mobile devices and tablets. Technology deficiencies like these tend to have a ripple effect, reducing the reliability of reporting and creating additional challenges in growth, financial support, and fundraising. Conversely, the effective use of technology can spawn innovation, improvements in efficacy, and a better user experience, more than justifying the cost of adoption. While there’s always a steady stream of exciting new tools and buzz words in the tech world, avoid investing in technology just for the sake of doing it. Instead, focus on your mission and how a particular new technology may help support it. The best way to get things headed in the right direction is to start moving. Not every initiative has to be a huge investment with a task force or committee involved. Some of the smartest investments start out as a small bet to try something new.

Are you ready to tackle your nonprofit’s biggest challenges? You don’t have to go it alone.

For nearly 20 years, IBC has been helping nonprofits, associations, and unions meet their obstacles head-on with state-of-the-art strategies and innovative iMIS software solutions. Please contact our experts to learn more. 

About IBC: At IBC, we have a deep understanding of the critical business needs and processes specific to associations, non-profits, and unions. We ‘get’ your culture, your goals, and what drives you, too. Focused exclusively on and dedicated to delivering the most effective AMS, LMS, and Virtual Event Solutions for our clients, we’re well-versed in identifying and applying the integration techniques that will save you time and money. Since 2001, our cutting-edge products, unparalleled responsiveness, and award-winning services have helped organizations like yours increase their operational and financial performance by leveraging best practices and proven solutions. For more information about IBC, please visit the website at www.ibconcepts.com or call 443.603.0215.