10 Nonprofit Trends Shaping 2020 From The Global Center for Nonprofit Excellence

The Global Center for Nonprofit Excellence is an orchestrated network that brings Nonprofits, Funders and Recognized Experts together for the greatest impact. With scores of weekly encounters with nonprofit leaders from all corners of the community, obvious trends have emerged.  

Co-Founder Bob Lipps says, “we have ongoing projects or are in discussion on projects that touch all 10 of these trends; many connecting multiple trends at once. The speed of change is accelerating and if you’re not currently engaging these trends, you may be missing something.”

Here are the Top 10 Trends:

Donation Slide Continues 

The trend-line for donations and number of individual donors will continue downward. This is playing out in fewer new donors, smaller average gift size and decreasing frequency of giving.

Nonprofits Diversify Revenue Streams

Nonprofits need new sources of income to replace thinning donations. Nonprofits are exploring everything from monetizing their intellectual property to accepting Bitcoin. Nonprofits are now selling their products and services as well as opening new ventures.

Mergers and Strategic Partnerships

Mergers are being used strategically by nonprofits to either survive or increase impact or both. In a recent study, 88% of post-merger organizations believed they were better off than prior to the merge. It’s all about mission and match.

Outsourcing of All Non-Critical Functions

Nonprofits are implementing creative belt tightening in all six areas of nonprofit operations. From Fractional CFOs to PEOs to contracted marketing departments, managers will be looking for cost cutting across the board.   

Board Makeovers

Nonprofits are looking for new board members but actually, they are looking for a different kind of new board member… a smarter, specialized and more diverse version. Board members are being asked to step up or step out. 

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Corporate Philanthropy Expands

Not long along, only a few enlightened businesses actively promoted social issues as part of their marketing and branding. Today, corporate philanthropy and corporate social responsibility are integral parts of most every serious business plan.

Accountability and Transparency Redefined

Nonprofits are being pressed for greater accountability and transparency from all sides. For example, larger funders and Millennials are both pushing nonprofits beyond 990s, Audited Financial Statements, and Impact or Annual Reports before making funding decisions.  

 Large Nonprofits Get Larger

As Millionaire DAFs and Billionaire foundations continue to grow, their donations will continue to disproportionately go to larger, more established nonprofits. It’s about capacity, capability and being able to use the funds effectively.  

Best Practices Become Validation Standard

Nonprofits, Funders and Industry Experts are independently finding that measuring competence against Best Practices or prescribed industry standards takes all the guesswork out. Smart tools, like OpX360®, measures operational effectiveness against Best Practices.  

Technology Advances  

Funders and Industry Experts are dragging Nonprofits into the 21st Century. From artificial intelligence to fundraising apps to SaaS, Nonprofits are leveraging technology to increase revenues and decrease expenses. 

What trends are you seeing? 

For more thought leadership on nonprofit Best Practices, measurement and how to achieve operational excellence, please visit The Global Center for Nonprofit Excellence® where Nonprofits, Funders and Recognized Experts work together for the greatest impact. We make nonprofits better. We can help yours.

If you would like to receive a copy of the Special Report referenced in the middle of this article, message me and I will personally send you a PDF copy.


Marc is Co-Founder and Principal Advisor of The Global Center for Nonprofit Excellence. For the previous 12 years, Marc served full-time as executive and practitioner in three significant yet very different Nonprofits overseeing extensive domestic and international operations.