Nonprofit Trends in 2016

Last year, we saw how nonprofits are becoming more involved at a societal level. The way we view these organizations, as well as our expectations of them, are rapidly changing. In an effort to get us ready for the new year, Social Velocity’s Neil Edgington has given us five nonprofit trends to watch out for in 2016.


Nonprofit Leadership… Globally

Public perception of the nonprofit sector is shifting. Where before it was considered to be more of a “support” area, nonprofit leaders are finding themselves at the vanguard against global challenges. While political bodies must worry about approval ratings and upcoming elections, nonprofits can maintain a high level of activity throughout multiple crises including terrorism, equal rights movements, and the aftermath of natural disasters.


Leveraging Protests

2015 saw an explosion of protests across the country that were similar to the social movements of the mid 19th century. As more people are demanding change and social action, nonprofits will be at the ready to take up numerous causes and enact meaningful steps to change. New and established modes of technology, as well as the omnipresence of social media, will allow nonprofits to keep their ears to the ground and respond where they are needed most.


More Networks

Traditionally, nonprofits involved in similar industries compete for the same scarce resources. It’s easy to see the problems that can arise from this, though. For example two competing health care nonprofits could get a lot more accomplished if they shared their resources. More can be accomplished on a large scale when organizations eschew individual goals and work as part of a large collective.


Make Change, State by State

Regardless of your socio-political leanings, one thing is for sure: the way change has come about on a granular, state level is astounding. Gone are the days when protest movements can change the national conscious overnight.Nonprofit organizations can work to raise awareness at a state level. Once legislation is passed locally, other municipalities and states can follow suit.


Changes in Funding

Traditionally, funding can be restrictive. Certain dollars can only be allocated to specific projects and uses. However, nonprofits are becoming increasing complex and interconnected with social movements, they will find themselves needing to spend with more freedom. In 2016, donors will begin to realize this, and allow for more indirect and flexible funding.

Tying the Knot for Good

With many couples waiting until they’re comfortable in their careers, sometimes until their early to mid-thirties, to get married, the tradition of collecting weddings gifts is catching on to a new charitable trend.

Most newlyweds are already comfortable in their homes. If not already living together, couples have furniture from past living accommodations (or they have money to purchase objects suited to their own taste). They are eager to resist needless gifts; all destined to become kitsch and clutter. Instead of wedding registries filled with Vitamixes and duvet covers, many newlyweds now choose to support philanthropic causes in lieu of receiving lavish gifts.

How can you create your own charitable wedding?

1.  Ask for charitable gifts

  • Fait La Force Blanket ($425) This collaboration with textile designers and local Haitian artisans uses traditional techniques and natural materials to provide jobs, skills and access to markets by bringing modern design to indigenous craft.
  • FEED Wine bag ($22) One wine bag provides five school meals to children worldwide, in countries like Cambodia and Guatemala. The bags are made by artisans in the countries the foundation supports and each is marked with the number of meals donated.

2. Take donations instead of gifts

  •, Founded on Valentine’s Day in 2002 this nonprofit strives to change the wedding sector by giving couples and their guests the tools to give back to their favorite charities. Some of the top charities used by include Doctors without Borders, American Cancer Society, Heifer International, Habitat for Humanity, and Save the Children.

3. Make the day a charitable affair

  • Host the event at a nonprofit-owned space (here’s a list of some in NYC). Museums, historical sites, and botanical sites are good options. However, they do get booked far in advance.
  • Spend a day with your bridal/groom party volunteering at your local soup kitchen or Habitat for Humanity.
  • Donate flowers and decorations after the celebration to a nearby hospital or nursing home.
  • Consider donating your wedding gown to other women in need.


Jonah Halper walletIf I told you that I only date girls with a thin waist, c-cup or larger breast size and look good in yoga pants, I would be labeled a disgusting pig faster than a slap to the face (and I may earn both). In fundraising, your strategy in finding and keeping partners in your cause can never be to “find rich people.” If you do, you are not going to succeed. This strategy doesn’t work for two reasons:

1. Anybody with self worth won’t identify themselves as “a rich person”. That would be superficial. Healthy people see the many aspects of their personality, knowledge and expertise that contribute to society and other things that are greater than themselves. If the reason why you are reaching out to them is for their wallet size, you will quickly learn that you have no values or vision in common and your overtures will come across inauthentic. Perusing a list of FORTUNE 500 executives to find donors for your cause is the equivalent of opening MAXIM magazine looking for your next date.

2. There are a lot of people in the world, and you need to be able to target specific audiences to share your mission and inspire them to action. If your primary characteristic for your demographic is “wealth”, it will be impossible to determine what compelling messages will hook them into your cause. Having clarity of who the right people are for your cause, will help give you focus and a target market to communicate with and engage with your mission.

The biggest mistake people make when fundraising is assuming that “money” is the most important characteristic when it comes to identifying your soulmates. Well, it is a logical conclusion in the sense that your job is to find donors to support your cause. However, the successful fundraiser will focus on the more substantive traits, like passion for your cause or unique skills they bring to the table. The answer to this question is not “everyone” or “anyone with money”. It is naive to think that everyone will identify with you or your cause, and just because they have money does not mean they will respond favorably to your engagement efforts.

You are not hunting for rich people. You are looking for people to advance your cause. That is an important distinction. You need to look for the type of people that will take ownership and provide support themselves, and inspire others to join as well. If you are just seeking wealthy individuals, you will strike out more often than not because these people are not being asked for anything other than their checkbook. When you seek out those people receptive to your mission and can help you share your vision, then you will find the money will follow. If not from them specifically, then from their connections and relationships. When you identify the right people, you will quickly see how easy it is to find your soulmates and donors to your cause.