Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Happy New Year – What will 2010 hold for you?

I always feel a bit more reflective as one year ends and a new year begins. This year, in particular, has varied from very difficult to very different for most of us. For 2010, I am grateful to be celebrating the 10th anniversary of Charitable Advisors and our capacity-building work with nonprofits and funders to support our communities.

I will skip the full “Top 10 list” but wanted to share a few trends or factors that we are seeing for the next year or two that directly impact our work:

1. The elephant in the room for 2010 - Will this be the year the nonprofit sector begins to get better or the year we fall apart? I don’t see many experts offering a middle ground, it seems that we will either tank or return to some semblance of normality. I suspect both are wrong, overall, and that each organization will feel it differently anyway.

2. Nonprofit leaders who deferred retirement are looking for a way to reduce their work schedule. For those who planned to retire in late 2008 or 2009, the past 15 months have been even more exhausting than it was for the rest of us. Though the stock market is doing better, many are not prepared emotionally or financially for retirement, but they don’t want to be “in charge” anymore and may be looking for part-time, staff, and project roles.

3. Foundations are narrowing their portfolios to emphasize grantees who are very effective at their work. This means even more emphasis on evaluation, higher board involvement, and probably more strategic thinking (and hopefully - shorter, more meaningful strategic plans)

4. More organizations will be deciding their future – you can only do so much with less. It seems that most nonprofits are fiercely independent and only “merge” as they go out of business. We may see more nonprofits resorting to earlier “all-volunteer” operational structures with the benefit of more online tools. There can be a tendency, as an organization becomes smaller, for focus to shift to keeping that one staff person on the payroll and losing sight of program goals. Hopefully, we will see groups combining efforts more around a shared neighborhood or group of people to enable services to continue even if organizations close or go into hibernation mode. QUESTION – would more weak organizations close, and hand off their clients, if inexpensive or no-cost legal support were readily available to do it well?

5.What will happen next in Social Media – now that Twitter has been around for several years, we have to assume that something else will be emerging as the “next best way to engage or fund raise or ???”.

We have some interesting ideas for 2010 that you will hear more about as we get into the year – but here is a clue. We have chosen the theme “Live Your Legacy” for 2010.

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