November 28, 2023  |  Jamie Matusek

2024 Nonprofit Leadership: Top 5 Opportunities Ahead

The new year is almost here and with it brings new ideas, goals, and challenges. We’ve compiled a list of the top five topics that you are sure to face as a nonprofit leader in 2024.    

  • 1 – Operational Transformation: Throughout 2023 we saw nonprofit leaders begin to place a larger focus on fine-tuning their internal structures. This will continue into 2024 as many nonprofits feel the impact of decreased donor support as a result of economic shifts in 2023. It provides an opportunity for leaders to look closely at the overall organizational needs and assess the structure of the organization including proper staffing counts and structures, partners to consider to support the work, tools that are needed to support goals and objectives,  and processes to create organization and efficiencies for teams.

It’s time to implement effective project management tools to get organized and keep team members informed across the organization. Moving to collaborative tools like Google Workspace allows for file organization, sharing, and real-time collaboration. Tools to keep volunteer teams organized and informed, a simple CRM platform to keep donor information in one place and updated, and adding an email platform that segments and sends targeted messages to the various audiences served.

  • 2 – Amplifying & Marketing Organizational Impact: Nonprofit leaders will need to head into 2024 with a strategy and plan focused on both measuring and reporting on their missional impact. This is necessary to continue to prove to consistent and potential donors that dollars are being used in the way that they would expect them to be. Plans should include tactics to consistently capture not only anecdotal evidence but also data to showcase the impact of organizational services and programs. 

This will help not only strengthen donor trust but will also provide insights to appeal to volunteers and showcase to internal staff members that their work is truly making a difference. This information can then be shared on a broad scale through marketing efforts helping to attract staff members, donors, and volunteers.

  • 3 – Donor Stewardship & Retention Strategies: The days of only holding large-scale events to get the dollars you need are losing their appeal. Yes, planned events can make an impact and lead to a great bump in donor contributions, but nonprofit leaders are looking for ways to truly create lasting relationships and partnerships with donors at all levels. 

This requires a dedicated donor stewardship strategy and plan that should be unique from other marketing efforts. Leaders will need to outline ways to connect with a diverse group of donor audiences by first defining who they are and then working to implement tactics that resonate with each group.  

This will look like more one-on-one and in-person connections being formed with corporate and large donors, plus using unique ways to stay consistently connected with those one-time donors to keep them informed, engaged, and interested in becoming long-term supporters. Nonprofit leaders are expanding efforts to include quarterly video conference updates to share impact across all donor groups, in-person coffee meetings, and organized facility tours.  

Discover additional tips on donor stewardship from our blog post, “How to Nurture Donor Loyalty During Economic Challenges.” 

  • 4 – Fostering Collaboration: 2024 will be a marker year for nonprofits and for-profits to join forces for good as nonprofit leaders seek out how to create more impact in the audiences and communities that they serve. Plans will include leaders proactively focusing efforts on outreach to other nonprofits, governmental agencies, and corporate entities to leverage collective resources, share ideas, and expand their impact. 

For-profit organizations are desiring to use profits for good as evidenced in the rise of B Corp Certification movement. It’s a great time for nonprofit leaders to make these connections not only for funding opportunities but also to gain insights into new strategies for achieving their missional goals and objectives and increasing their volunteer pools.   

  • 5 – Focusing on Internal Teams: This is something we outlined based on conversations held with nonprofit leaders and staff members that we work with. For many years, nonprofit leaders have focused on others. It’s what they do! Service is part of the nonprofit mission, but leaders are realizing that if they and their team members are burned out, it affects multiple areas of the organization including fundraising efforts, volunteer growth, connection, and ultimately the mission the organization is founded upon. 

We believe 2024 will be the year nonprofit leaders focus on living out their mission internally by ensuring they are protecting against “compassion fatigue.” Many are already starting to ask questions like, “Are we who we say we are to our internal team? In what ways can we support our team members’ needs for self-care? What needs to change to be a supportive work environment? What should we provide to our team members in the way of professional growth and development?”   

See additional ideas on focusing on employee wellness in our blog post, “How Our Understanding of Mental Health in the 21st Century Can Benefit Employees.

From operational improvements to better care for internal teams, those of you in a  nonprofit leadership position have your work cut out for you in 2024. It can feel daunting, but the most important way to ensure you can step into solving some of these important needs is to focus on your organizational top three. 

Not everything can be tackled all at once. Prioritizing focus areas can truly help you step into some key improvements in 2024 and create further trust and connection with your internal teams, volunteers, donors, and community members that you serve.  

The additional needs can be prioritized as the year progresses. The most important thing is to not create these alone. Ask your team members where they feel most pressed and in what areas they would like to see improvements. This can help to inform your top three goals for the year. And then, communicate. Being clear about what is next will keep your teams connected and allow them to participate in bringing the organizational goals to life.  

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