2021 is rapidly coming to an end, and now is the time to start considering where we want to see the industry go in 2022.
Many of the 2021 industry trends focused on technology. We continue to exist in a post-COVID world, connecting over virtual conferences and working in hybrid remote/in-person models. Many organizations and corporations have realized that a remote model is achievable, and by embracing technology, we can find new and more accessible ways to work.
As we head into 2022, we look ahead at some key trends to build and strengthen relationships with donors, volunteers, stakeholders and staff.
7 Nonprofit Trends To Look Out For in 2022
The Environment Around Volunteerism Will Change
I believe that we will see the trend of hybrid work and volunteering to continue and I see that technology will be at the centre of the development of new and exciting opportunities in nonprofit programming.
I also see that there will be more partnerships between organizations and creative ways to work together without geographical barriers.
Finally, I think nonprofits are going to have to find ways to connect with their stakeholders in new and meaningful ways. As the profit world is finding new ways to engage with their clients and stakeholders, nonprofits will have to follow with new ways to bridge the gaps with their clients, volunteers and staff.
We Will Find New Opportunities For Stewardship By Recatagorizing Our Donors
The trend I hope to see in 2022 is a broader recognition of a counterintuitive idea - that there is no such thing as a big or a small donor! "Big" and "small" are arbitrary labels we’ve created to put on our donors, and we often indelibly apply them after one single interaction with the organization.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of strategically segmented donor data - but too often we create these labels based on a first gift, and then think of them as permanent and fixed. When we stop rigidly categorizing our donors in this way we can open up to new opportunities, including growing a healthy pipeline, building more meaningful connections with our supporters, and significantly increasing the potential of major and legacy gifts.
More Nonprofits Will Invest In Their Employee’s Professional Development
I hope that in 2022, nonprofit leaders invest more in their employees' professional development. Though many nonprofits provide professional development stipends for their staff, most do not, and this is a huge missed opportunity. Investing in and supporting your employees is one of the most effective, affordable ways to increase their engagement and reduce turnover.
Data Will Become The Norm, Not The Exception
The last two years have seen data, graphs, and statistics dominate the news and our collective psyche as we’ve counted COVID cases and modelled pandemic growth. We’ve had to grapple with complex numerical concepts like exponential growth and relative risk increases, and what they mean for how we’re going to run our communities, our businesses, and our lives.
So I don’t feel like I’m going out on much of a limb when I predict for 2022 that data is here to stay for all of us. The nonprofit sector has been late to analytics, but it feels like the tipping point is near, where data will become the norm rather than the exception across most nonprofits. I believe more and more funders will ask for evaluation data on the programs they are supporting – and I deeply hope that those same funders will start to recognize the additional work and resources that are required to properly carry out those analytics.
Lastly, I think that nonprofits are going to face a serious challenge in analytic staffing/personnel: data work in all forms continues to explode in the for-profit sector, which typically offers substantially higher salaries and often more advanced technical data tools and infrastructure than nonprofits can. Small nonprofits may not even have enough data work to fill a full-time position. Creative solutions like resource sharing, fractional analytic staff, and data automation may rise inside the nonprofit sector to ensure that all nonprofits get the data they need, no matter how small they are.
We Will Continue To Support Black-Led, Black-Serving and Black-Focused Organizations
If we want to know what our donors will do, let’s take a look at what our donors have already done. So goes the adage about predicting donor behaviour. When I apply this predictor principle to a gaze into 2022, I would say that it may not be much different to what I saw in 2021.
In 2021 Black-led, Black-serving, and Black-focused (B3) organizations reported an unprecedented level of support from mainstream funders. I believe this will continue. Mainstream charities and consulting firms made a dash for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour to join their teams. I think that will continue. White colleagues leaned into the conversation on racial inequities and understood how the non-profit sector had failed to keep its pledge to fight justice and promote equity. I hope this rising consciousness will continue.
2021 was the year of truth-telling in relation to how our Indigenous children who did not make it to adulthood suffered the most inhumane deaths and burials – I hope more truths about Canada’s bitter history and its legacy of cruelty towards Black and Indigenous people will continue to be told, so that we may all become equity seekers in 2022.
As a Black man, my big questions are to what extent will we tackle systemic anti-Black racism in 2022? For it is likely that our discoveries in 2021 will remain just that (discoveries), unless words are matched with actions and funding for our B3s is sustained, rather than transacted one-time for the sake of bragging rights. I also hope for more authentic partnerships (knowledge, resource, and skills sharing) between funders, mainstream non-profits, and B3 organizations. This is necessary because the realities of the Black experience in Canada, when put together are tragic:
- Black students are four times more likely to be expelled from Toronto high schools than White students
- Black workers are four times as likely as White workers to report experiencing racial discrimination in workplaces
- Black university graduates earn only 80 cents for every dollar earned by White university graduates – despite having the same credentials
- Black residents are 20 times more likely than a White resident to be shot dead by police in Toronto
In 2022, I believe we need to continue to advocate for our common humanity. However, I also believe that we will continue to grow in our positive practices from 2021
More Organizations Will Invest In A Robust Cloud-Based System
I would say we're still in a COVID world, and we are supporting teams working in a distributed model. Creating virtual workplaces with cloud-based tools that employees can leverage anywhere has been a trend for a long time, but I think that trend is getting accelerated. Things like allowing your team to securely log into the platform, providing software that's easy to use and having great support because teams don't necessarily have the support at their fingertips.
All of those pieces come with the best-in-class cloud-based model, and really supporting teams working in a virtual distributed model is key. So I think that's a big continuing trend.
- Farrah Rooney, Director of Partnerships at Driven
More Leaders Will Prioritize Employee Satisfaction
One trend that I think is going to continue into 2022, that I've definitely been noticing with a number of the clients I've been working with, is seeing a significant amount of staff turnover, and I think this is sort of tied to this sort of "great resignation" that's been going on throughout the pandemic.
I think in 2022 it's going to be more important than ever to make sure that you are taking care of the people that work for you, to create a good work environment, because people are no longer willing to put up with a less than ideal work environment.
Even in some cases, where there haven't been any necessarily really big problems, people are deciding to go back to school, pursue something else. So I think that's probably going to happen to a lot of organizations, even if you are investing in employee satisfaction and happiness.
But if you don't invest in that and you're not actively thinking about what matters to the people that work for you and under you, that's going to be a liability in 2022 more than ever.
- Dave Saraiva, Head of Product, Driven