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What's Ahead for Nonprofits? Trends to Watch

The following is a guest post by Claire Perkins, freelance writer about nonprofit organizations. You can read Claire's blog at

nonprofit organization internet  domainAn improving economy and the trend toward increasing transparency are signs of a new era of potential for the nonprofit sector. Tracking processes are evolving, supporters are growing more savvy and the boundaries of a nonprofit's reach are melting away, and this is paving the way for new possibilities and growth. There were more than 1.5 million tax-exempt organizations in the U.S. in 2012, according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, and professionals working for nonprofits should be aware of these significant areas of focus for 2013.

Online Safety for Charitable Giving

Online giving raises millions of much-needed dollars, but many people are still wary of making donations over the Internet due to online safety issues. Potential donors are fearful of falling victim to identity theft and scams that replicate legitimate charities – a donor's personal information can be used to apply for wireless services, retail credit, utilities and mortgage loans, according to Lifelock. Help your donors feel safe by optimizing your website for safe giving and provide them with tips on safe online giving.

Tracking to Quantify Accomplishments

There is an increased call for detailed analytics and tracking to show the true reach of a nonprofit’s efforts, according to Rather than providing statistics on how many people are directly impacted by action your nonprofit takes (houses built, meals delivered, etc.), more organizations are now developing theories of change to better demonstrate their effects in their entirety. The site defines a theory of change as “an argument for how your nonprofit turns community resources (money, volunteers, clients, staff, materials) into positive change in the community.” A theory of change can help you articulate the impact your nonprofit is making, clarify your vision or strategy, gauge the relevancy of new opportunities, guide long-term planning and engage supporters.

Efforts to Compare and Rate Nonprofits

As nonprofits strive to demonstrate tangible results, other groups are watching nonprofits more carefully. Sites like GuideStar, Charity Navigator and Charity Watch measure the impact of various charities and give donors information about where their time and money are best spent. Use these sites as an opportunity to monitor and manage your online reputation. Use their profile of your organization as a springboard for improvement, and take the necessary steps to improve where they link you are lacking. Your online image says a lot about your nonprofit, and donors react accordingly.

Donor Retention through Technology

According to Blackbaud Index, charitable giving remained relatively flat in 2012 and will continue to be as such in 2013. Blackbaud suggests focusing on current donor retention, maximizing revenue from current donors and exploring cost-effective ways to acquire new donors, all of which can be helped by a strong focus on the best search engine optimization practices, social media initiatives and an improved online reputation.

Claire Perkins Claire Perkins

With a background in print and digital publishing, Claire would be lost without mags, Twitter and various newsfeeds. Otherwise, she can be found amid a cloud of Law & Order SVU, Cinnamon Dolce Lattes, Faux Fur, Big Rings and Dreamgirls. Claire can be found on Twitter @GooseWellington.

Topics: Nonprofit Leadership and Practice