Nonprofit Insider

2016 Nonprofit Industry Forecast

Written by Grace Mattern, Board President of the NH Center for Nonprofits, and originally published in the January 2016 issue of Business NH Magazine.

Nonprofits are built on the belief that communities can solve problems and enrich culture through the commitment of dedicated board volunteers, the business skills of executives and the hard work of staff. As mission-driven organizations, they are positioned to lead efforts to sustain New Hampshire as a healthy, safe, vibrant and welcoming state. Over the next year, the creative energy and vision of nonprofits will be called on to continue building social capital in the face of challenging trends.

Resources Get Scarce, Nonprofits Get Creative

The motto “do more with less” is familiar to all sectors in New Hampshire and is particularly acute for nonprofits. Government funding continues to shrink while the demand for services continues to increase. With heightened competition for private funds as foundations and funders shift priorities and schools and other “public” institutions compete for charitable dollars, many nonprofits are facing the “perfect storm.”

Nonprofit leaders will continue to sharpen their business models and measure and maximize effective programs. Strategic partnerships between nonprofits and for-profit businesses, entrepreneurial initiatives, and new ventures in fundraising will be expanded by nonprofits in the coming year.

On the Seacoast, Sexual Assault Support Services and A Safe Place recently merged to create HAVEN. Community support for victims of abuse and investment in prevention can now be focused on one organization and those seeking services will experience a more holistic array of supports. Child and Family Services initiated a new event to make up some of the decrease in state revenue; fifty people slept outside on a winter night in Manchester to raise money and awareness for homelessness. “Do less with less“ is another perspective as many leaders in the nonprofit world worry that doing more enables bad public policy decisions with no consequences.

Leadership Transitions Amidst An Aging Population

New Hampshire’s population is no longer expanding, and it is growing older; the percentage of the population over 65 will begin to rise steadily by 2020. For nonprofits, this means that both staff and board leadership will age out of their positions.

It is critical for nonprofits to address this through increased capacity to build staff leadership from within the organization and engaging the next generation of board leaders. Research from Bridgespan indicates that nonprofits replace top level positions with talent from within the organization less than 30% of the time; far below their for-profit counterparts. Other research indicates that the time it takes for an external hire to become productive is twice as long as for someone hired from within. This lost time, productivity and organizational knowledge could be decreased by expanding leadership development opportunities for existing staff.

Stand For Your Mission – Board Members As Advocates

Operating under the incorrect assumption that advocacy equals lobbying and that nonprofits can’t lobby, many board members don’t understand how they can leverage their influence to promote the missions they support. According to BoardSource, only 33% of organizations report that their board members are actively involved in advocating for their missions.

It is critical for nonprofits and their board members to understand that advocacy may involve legislative activity, but it is also speaking up for your organization and advancing its mission by serving as an ambassador and champion within your community of colleagues, friends and associates. Nonprofit boards must undertake more assertive advocacy in order to help the organizations they represent achieve their missions.

Many New Hampshire nonprofits understand the role of advocacy in their work, and are active both at the State House and in their communities, working to ensure that the voice of their organizations is heard by policy makers and the public. The Society for the Protection of NH Forests, NH Legal Assistance, the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, New Futures, and Housing Action NH all maintain a strong presence at the Legislature, as well as community relations programs that help the public understand the issues they address and how effective policy can solve community problems. The work of these nonprofits can serve as models for other board members to champion the missions they represent. Advocacy is a root to flourishing for the sector.

In the year ahead, the Center will continue to identify trends affecting the sector and provide programs that offer solutions to emerging challenges. Through educational workshops to strengthen skills, public messaging, mission advocacy, and partnerships to extend reach and influence, the nonprofit sector in New Hampshire is ready for the next year of challenge and opportunity.

Posted on: January 29, 2016
Topics: Something New

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