The non-profit sector has been forced to evolve, adapt and adjust throughout the past year. From the demise of in-person fundraising, to an increased demand for services – charities have played a reactive role in response to the challenges of lockdowns.

But now is the right time to start planning ahead. So we’re taking a look at some of the current trends and challenges that lie ahead for charities and other non-profits

Measuring their success

This has long been a challenge for many non-profits. According to the Non-profit Trends Report (2nd edition) from Salesforce.org, 75% of non-profits say that measuring and reporting data is a challenge.

The report also revealed that only 51% of nonprofits actually measure their overall mission goals. But what should success look like? 

This will be different for every non-profit. Perhaps one place to start is to look at service delivery and donor behaviour. 

A quarterly research study from Enthuse recently found that retaining existing donors is vital for non-profits due to changes in donor behaviour. The report revealed that 86% of recent are likely to give again, while just 24% of those who haven’t given are planning to donate soon.

Transparency, funding and service delivery

It’s no secret that service delivery has been a big challenge for charities recently. 

With 75% of nonprofits reported an increase in demand for their programs (Salesforce.org) and a decrease in funding streams, charities are having to do a lot more with a lot less.

Transparency is also a challenging area for many non-profits, with 69% of saying demand for transparency regarding their funding has increased (Salesforce.org).

In addition to this, the Enthuse report has revealed that only a quarter (26%) of the public want to use cash for donations in future, and the majority (51%) are now choosing online giving as their preferred route. This is why turning to digital fundraising platforms and diversifying funding streams is a vital move for non-profits.

Capacity to adopt new technologies

While the challenges of lockdowns have certainly sped up the digital revolution for the non-profit sector, there is still a way to go.

According to the Salesforce.org report, 93% of non-profits state lack of IT or technical staff is a challenge to their organisation’s adoption of new technologies. 

Despite this, 85% of nonprofits also say that technology is the key to success at their organisation and that they believe technology can replace a lot of the manual tasks that take them away from delivering services (Salesforce.org).

Similarly the NPC state of the sector 2020 report found that 95% of our charities agree that the use of data and evidence are important to them achieving their mission, but 41% of charities’ are not confident that they are making the best use of digital.

Appetite for change

So what is stopping the sector from moving forward? A big part of the problem is appetite for change.

The Salesforce.org report found that 45% of non-profits say a lack of flexibility for organisational change prevents departments from using technology to implement strategy. 

Even when an organisation is ready for change, non-profits still need the resources, staff and buy-in to implement change.

Measuring success, diversifying funding streams, adopting new technology and building an appetite for change are some of the biggest challenges facing charities this year.