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From Where I Sit: Nonprofit Trends and Useful Information

February 10, 2010

(Marilyn Hoyt is a nonprofit consultant who regularly teaches courses at Foundation Center locations around the country. This post originally appeared on the Philanthropy Front and Center-Cleveland blog.)

Longterm_study_of_market_trends We're all hungry to know what the future holds, even though we may have a gut assumption about 2010: It will not be as tough as 2009 as we slog our way to a "new" normal.

Some informal trends I'm observing around the country:

1. Tough times tend to increase staffing volatility. My husband and I were part of the influx of nonprofit talent that came to New York in the late 1970s as replacements for the nonprofit professionals who departed during the sharp economic downturn that happened mid-decade. This big wave of transition in the sector gave us both terrific thirty-year careers in NYC, so shakeups in staffing aren't all bad all the time. Nonetheless, we need to prepare ourselves and our organizations now for the staffing disruptions that coincide with and follow deep recessions.

If you are seeing a growing number of vacancies in high-profile nonprofit positions (college presidents, museum directors, nonprofit CEOs, etc.) in your area, that could be a signal the transition is under way. Because this shift ultimately will affect all levels of our institutions, now is the time to write down procedures and document work flow so that your organization can accommodate staff changes quickly and successfully. Now is also the time to identify your most valuable employees and allow them to shine. Give them more influence; vary their tasks; let them know they are valued. This can diminish the chances of them leaving.

2. Like many small businesses, a lot of us are analyzing our customers and donors and focusing our mailing lists, meetings, and staff time in directions where potential return on investment is the greatest.

3. Many of us are seeing delayed payments for contract work and fewer grants from both private and public sources. As the magazine Governing notes: "Live within your means. Look to the future. Stop deferring expenses....Set up a rainy day fund."

4. Federal stimulus dollars are still wending their way to the nonprofit sector. The National Science Foundation, NOAA, and U.S. Department of Education are all making major funding for educational activities available to nonprofits. Likewise, state recovery funding is better organized now and easy to find online.

5. This is the time to network, network, network with your colleagues and peers. Many of the larger gifts and other financial resources I hear about are coming as a result of networking.

There's also a lot of information out there. Here are some articles and reports I've found to be useful:

How do things look from where you're sitting? Use the comments section to share your thoughts....

-- Marilyn Hoyt

Comments

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For local non-profits the enrollment deadlines to participate in the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) are fast approaching. There are more than 250 regional CFCs, most deadlines are between February and March (DC area deadline already passed - it was January 29).

The CFC is not a get rich quick scheme but if your non-profit's mission resonates with Federal public servants it's an excellent to raise unrestricted funds. How much? Over the past five years the CFC has generated more than $1 billion of unrestricted dollars.

Regards,
Bill Huddleston
www.cfcfundraising.com

P.S. If the CFC were a foundation, in terms of actual giving it would be the tenth largest foundation in the USA.

"Workplace giving is the nursery where donors are grown."

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