This Industry Outlook is a portion of the 2019-2020 Arizona CFO Spotlight Survey Report
Levels of Optimism: Moderate
Whether nonprofit organizations are endowed or they rely on regular donors and government funding to maintain their mission, leaders in all sectors see 2019 as a year of relative stability. This is interesting given what appeared to be an uncertain stock market at the end of 2018 as well as uncertainties around charitable giving after the federal tax reforms.
What is different is nonprofit leaders’ approach to their administration and missions. Boots on the ground organizations have invested in brand perception positioning as well as administrative tools, intended to enhance their reputations and reduce overhead costs. For example, nonprofits are going paperless and equipping field representatives with tablets to communicate and report more easily. They are paying attention to how they communicate social impact and match the interests of their donors. In this respect, leaders are anticipating moderate to strong growth this year.
Investments in paperless technology and solar power are among the change makers in nonprofit management.
Some leaders have offset wage increases by raising fees for services where they can. They are focused on maintaining experienced staff in order to educate and serve clients more effectively. They are also investing in their volunteers. A state grant to the ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation has just wrapped up its first cohort of organization leaders who are being trained to better manage and appreciate volunteers.
Another trend influencing the nonprofit community is increased collaboration. Whether it’s peer-to-peer collaboration or private-public collaboration, organizations are adjusting their approach to how they pursue their mission in light of these collaborations. For example, grant applications may name multiple partners as stakeholders in a project as opposed to one or two.
“Staying relevant and in touch with our grantees is something we continually talk about and think about…the means of communication keep changing.”
Nonprofit CFO, Tucson, 2019
In addition, nonprofit organizations are getting more sophisticated with their use of social media and outreach to stakeholders. They are using new channels to increase giving and maintain transparency. Uses for websites and online giving options are accelerating to match donor interests in immediacy and convenience. Leaders are using analytics to identify donor preferences and trends. Overall, Arizona nonprofit organizations are keeping pace with the interests and preferences of the audiences they serve, which will keep them relevant and healthy.