The nonprofit workforce is facing a historic shift in how work gets done.
All-virtual could become the new reality for nonprofits: in the U.S. alone, 86 percent of respondents said that operating only virtually, with no physical office, is likely to happen in the next three years. Globally, that number stands at 78 percent.
This is according to the fourth edition of the Salesforce.org Nonprofit Trends Report, which reflects the greatest challenges and opportunities for the industry around the world. Each year, Salesforce.org delivers the report with several goals. These include better understanding the role nonprofits have in serving their communities; what is shifting within the nonprofit space; and how technology supports their ability to fund and run their mission across departments.
Among the key findings of the latest (4th edition) report were:
- A different tack on diversity, equity, and inclusion, as 49 percent of nonprofits said their organization has changed its approach in the past 12 months
- A boost in fundraising, as 33% of the organizations Salesforce.org surveyed said their nonprofit actually exceeded their fundraising goals in the past year
- A challenge in finding new donors: When asked how concerned they were, 33% of respondents said raising awareness of their organization and upgrading or retaining existing donors is a major challenge and the majority believe these issues will persist or become increasingly more challenging over the next year.
- A struggle with employee mental health and wellbeing, as 32% of all nonprofits surveyed said ensuring the mental health and wellbeing of their employees was a major issue for them over the past year
Mental health and wellbeing has an impact on the workplace, and this year, it’s also clear that the workplace of tomorrow is here. One third of organizations said that remotely managing employees and volunteers was a major issue, and 84% of respondents added it will remain a challenge or become even more difficult during the next 12 months. It’s indicative of a shift toward all-virtual management, especially as 85% of those surveyed say staff retention will increasingly become a challenge.
People are feeling tired and lonely at work as workplace burnout grows, found a Harvard Business review article. Across all professions, 50 percent are burned out and lonely from emotional exhaustion. While nonprofit leaders can undertake recommendations focused on relieving stress, teaching mindfulness and reducing workload at the workplace, they are also increasingly seeing a solution in upgrading technology. These tools not only meet the needs of a digital-first landscape but also relieve the burden of having to oversee a physical workplace. From the survey of 1,250 respondents, 79% said they expected to implement widespread usage of artificial intelligence (AI) technology in the next three years.
“This is what it looks like when we’re swimming in the middle of a sea change,” writes Katharine Bierce, Manager of Research Content at Salesforce.org in this blog. “Never has there been so much sophisticated tech available to a nonprofit — innovations that could potentially bring tens of thousands more people into our missions with an unprecedented ability to take action and measure impact. We need to be compassionate, patient and diligent in anticipation of balance and a better future.”
Nonprofits still working on a data strategy—or finding themselves without one—are not alone, as 76% of respondents said they still need to develop a data strategy.
David Ragones, the senior vice president and general manager of Salesforce.org Nonprofit Cloud, points out that future success will depend on data. “While there may be some nostalgia for the old mechanisms of fundraising, nonprofits now recognize they will continue to need a virtual strategy in addition to their in-person strategy,” he said. “Whether they are sending out mailers, organizing charity events, designing online fundraisers, or digitally connecting donors from abroad with recipients domestically in the United States, organizations are becoming increasingly aware that data is the connective tissue that enables this work.”
As the 4th edition of the Nonprofit Trends Report summarizes, the top challenge for the U.S. is remote/virtual/adapted program delivery. The good news is that nonprofits now have the power to allocate more resources toward the tools needed to operate in the cloud.
For more insights on the changing landscape of nonprofit operations, download the full Salesforce.org report.