Nonprofits are fearful of their ability to continue to expand their services in years to come because philanthropic donations showed a decrease in donations in 2018. There is significant debate and analysis over if this is a growing trend. Only time will tell how last year compared. This will be revealed near the end of the second quarter, based on when Giving USA’s reports come out.
Waiting for the report to show the trend without making changes today means more people will face their life challenges without community support. Debating about the current state of philanthropy increases fears and creates paralysis. Immediately taking action and adapting the nonprofit model by increased innovation is the course-correction needed to move forward.
Two major changes can bring hope: corporate collaboration and volunteerism. Consumers are demanding companies create brands and products that focus on the greater human benefits of social and environmental interests. A report from NYU found that sustainable products grew over five times faster. A Cone Communications survey found that eighty-seven percent of Americans will purchase a product because of a company’s philanthropic involvement. The business world profits when it meets the demands of its consumers. Likewise, nonprofits need to adapt; the market is ready for more. It’s undeniable that changes in consumer behavior is one major opportunity to capitalize on.
The United States was ranked eighth for volunteerism with thirty-nine percent of the population participating, according to the 2018 Charities Aid Foundation World Giving Index. The US lags behind other industrialized nations such as Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia. Surprisingly, we fall behind Liberia, Sri Lanka, Kenya, and Indonesia (which came in at number one with 53% participation).
Creating volunteer opportunities that factor in individual time constraints will galvanize the sector and maximize meeting the charitable needs of our society. More boots-on-the-ground will expand services without having to rely on funds. Importantly, volunteers and donors will see the changes they expect.
For-profit marketing strategies focus on selling the idea that their product will make them happier, because societal trends show that people are more stressed, tired, and lonely than ever before. The niche to carve out is to get involved in a nonprofit. It touches humans deeper than any product ever created.
Selling the power of how giving feels will ease the problems of volunteer recruitment. Giving feels good, according to science. In a 2006 study, the National Institutes of Health found that giving to charity activates regions of the brain associated with pleasure. The message that it feels good to give to a nonprofit is the core message to disperse.
There are three key ways to transform the sector. First, dilute the term philanthropy to enable more people to join the table. It’s not just reserved for the wealthiest—even Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffet said this.
Second, include everyday actions to strangers as an aspect of giving to be recognized. Any good put in the world succeeds at meeting the mission of our organizations. Giving a homeless person a lunch means that a nonprofit doesn’t need to. Empowering people to do whatever good they want to do will cause a ripple effect.
Third, support businesses with double and triple bottom-line budgets to increase collaborations with the business world. The effects of revolutionizing the nonprofit sector affects the business world, too. Harnessing the truth that personally enjoying giving transfers over into consumer behavior.
Just as the business world has learned, nonprofits are missing the mark when the message is focused on the bottom-line. The roots of the industry is founded on the premise that people want to help because they enjoy helping. Humans are hardwired for connection. Celebrating and praising all acts of giving will bring about the change our world needs.
Waiting to hear the trend of the industry in six months is futile. The recipients of nonprofit missions can’t wait. Volunteerism and corporate collaboration are the linchpins to stimulate change.