The nonprofit sector is all about acceptance, cultural learning and adapting. One such tradition nonprofit executives might want to incorporate in planning for 2019 how a new year – or funeral – is observed in many cultures.
Joss paper is often burned during traditional Chinese funerals. In Ecuador, some residents scare away bad luck by setting a scarecrow on fire outside their homes. The idea is to burn away the prior year’s ruinous events, intimidate bad luck from attempting to arrive and to safely open the door to the new year.
Leaders of the charitable sector would probably love to set this past year on fire and look forward to the new year. There were many events that derailed progress. Nationally-known executives were ousted for alleged wrongdoing. Attorneys general, particularly in California, attacked the fundraising process and protections of donors. Regulations geared toward data privacy hit in Europe with the General Data Protection Regulation, which is expected to head toward the United States and already impacts U.S. charities fundraising abroad.
The election cycle brought renewed attempts to repeal the Johnson Amendment, a provision in the U.S. tax code that since 1954 has prohibited all 501(c)(3) nonprofits from endorsing or opposing political candidates.
Spirits were buoyed early in 2018 when it was estimated that giving hit $410 billion during 2017. The joy was quashed by tax reform which changed charitable deductions and databases showing giving down significantly year-over-year for the first three quarters of 2018. The numbers are plummeting despite the national employment numbers continuing to improve. That’s putting pressure on nonprofit executives to find other forms of income.
Of course, the positive jobs picture might not last as interest rates creep up and more workers are replaced with automated mechanisms. The McKinsey Global Institute last year estimated that 400 million jobs could be displaced and 75 million workers will need to change occupations by 2030 due to adoption of automation.
That’s only 11 years away. Nonprofit executives must be central to helping construct the new economy.
As revenue started declining, costs continued to increase, starting with U.S. Postal Service rates charities use to get their messages out. Chapter breakaways are not helping the bottom line at national charities and the cost to find and keep workers continued to climb.
A lot of decisions have to be made for 2019 and beyond. The following pages include ideas from some of the sharpest minds in the charitable sector. You can even hear their voices if you click the link under each photo.
Cash is not the sector’s most important resource. What is more important are the optimism, skill and leadership — the human resources. Here’s what they are doing to start the new year.