The Non Profit Sector in a Time of Unprecedented Change

The ongoing global recession has taken a toll on non-profits as they are both in demand for their services and at the same time, there has been a drop in funding for them. This has happened because the humanitarian disasters and the need for non profits to step in where the state has failed because of the recession and a general decline in authority of the state has meant that they are being called upon to perform many roles that they otherwise were hesitant to do earlier.

However, the drying up of funding means that non-profits cannot hope to fulfill all the demands on their time and hence, have to make do with whatever limited resources they have. Apart from this, there are changes in the external environment that are to do with increasing numbers of new entrants that offer the same or more services as the existing non profits. This means that the existing non-profits have to diversify and expand their offerings if they are to remain viable and relevant.

The third trend that has manifested in recent times is the aspect of rapid technological change, which means that the attendant consequences have to be addressed by the non-profits. For instance, non-profits can no longer ignore the technical component of their services and hence, have to adapt to technology and make it an integral part of their programs. Further, with rapid technological change, the non-profits are faced with a situation where they have to log in (to use a metaphor) into the virtual world and bridge it with the real world to ensure that they remain relevant to the contemporary times.

The fourth trend relates to increased expectations from the client populations because of globalization and increased awareness among the populace. For instance, many beneficiaries and intended recipients of the non-profits endeavors are more aware and more well informed and hence, are demanding the same accountability and transparency that the non-profits demand from the governments and public authorities. This means that the non-profits themselves are under watch and hence, have to ramp up on their activities to ensure that they appeal to the populace at large.

The fifth trend is in the realm of the funders tightening the funding norms and requirements, which places extra emphasis on the performance of the non-profits. This means that non-profits are hit by a “double whammy” wherein they have to be accountable to their donors and responsive to a heightened awareness among their recipients. All these trends taken together indicate that the non-profit sector has to innovate, reorganize, and reorient them not to mention be proactive instead of being reactive.

Finally, these aspects discussed here would persist even if the economic conditions improve as the world is heading down a path of uncertainty and upheaval going by the current state of the planet. Hence, like any other sector, the non-profits are beset with the challenges of surviving and thriving in a hyperactive environment where everything is in a state of flux. Whether the non-profit sector can innovate to evolve to the next level remains to be seen. The subsequent articles in this module look at some of the ways in which the non-profits can devise strategies to beat the “global odds”.

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