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Three reasons why you need to future-proof your NFP organization

Posted by  Christopher Brewer

Constant change is driving the need for future-proofing in the not-for-profit industry; those that achieve it are able to seize an even greater opportunity to deliver impact.

There’s hardly any aspect of not-for-profit (NFP) activity today that isn’t experiencing constant and potentially disruptive change. Demand for services is soaring, donor behavior and expectations are shifting, and peer organizations are adopting new business models.

These and other factors are creating an urgent need for NFPs to acquire the flexibility necessary to not just cope with change, but thrive on it. Here are just three reasons why you need to develop a strategy to future-proof your NFP organization.

1. Demand for services is growing

According to the UNHCR, we are now witnessing the “highest levels of displacement on record,” with an unprecedented 70.8 million people forcibly displaced in the world; among them 25.9 million refugees.

In the natural world, climate change is worsening. The IPCC reports that the global average sea level rose by 19cm between 1901 and 2010; yet the average sea level rise is predicted to be 24–30cm by 2065. This is threatening the safety of vulnerable populations living in low-lying coastal regions.

Both geopolitical instability and climate change are each fuelling a massive increase in demand for the work of NGOs and NFPs. Organizations are having to specialize in their missions to win funding and equip themselves with systems that are flexible enough to enable rapid crisis response.

2. Donors are behaving differently

In Canada, donations are down despite a growing population: a quarter (24.6 percent) of tax filing Canadians donated to charity in 2006, compared to only 20.4 percent in 2015.

People are also giving in different ways. The number of online donors grew by 20.5 percent in Canada between 2006 and 2015, and the average size of online contributions grew at 2.8 percent, compared to a 1.2 percent growth for donations in general.

Shifts like this are forcing NFPs to adapt so they can accept new forms of payment, and find entirely new sources of income that are less dependent on unpredictable donor behavior.

3. New business models are emerging

NFPs are trying to find new kinds of revenue streams such as licensing their expertise to partners, providing consultancy to other charities or creating educational packages for sale. Some service delivery organizations sell their services to other NFPs. 

Others, like Seattle-based PATH, re-engineer products for developing countries, such as water sanitation devices that run off batteries rather than mains electricity.

Find out how to future-proof your NFP

In our white paper, Rising to the Challenge of Change, we guide you through the capabilities you may need to future-proof your organization and examine how modern cloud enterprise software, like ERP, HCM and FP&A, purpose-built for the sector, can enable you to rise to the challenges ahead.

Download the white paper here.

Christopher Brewer

Chris has more than 25 years experience working with some of the world's largest Not-for-Profits and NGOs to enhance their technological capacity. As a Global Lead, Not-for-Profit, Chris focuses on helping leaders identify and address changing patterns in philanthropy and shifts in technology to ensure their organizations' ongoing success and increase social impact.