A New Year full of change and challenge

I spent some time yesterday preparing for an upcoming radio interview on nonprofit trends for 2011 with Lindsay Nichols of the GuideStar team. We identified three big issues that we think we will influence much of what goes on in the nonprofit sector in the year ahead:

The economy: GuideStar released a report in late November that suggests that the free fall from the Great Recession is over, but the recovery is still uneven – with the speed and extent of the recovery depending on the geographic location, size, and type of the organization. Meanwhile, demand for nonprofit services, particularly vital social services, continues to increase.

  1. State and federal government financial issues: I recently wrote a blog about how nonprofits are being affected by drastic budget cutbacks in government budgets. Since then there have been a number of frightening reports predicting we could see a number of government bankruptcies this year. With government being the largest source of nonprofit revenue, this situation could get a whole lot worse before it gets better.
  2. Technology: No surprise to those working in the nonprofit sector: technology continues to change, modify and transform how we raise and donate charitable contributions. Network for Good recently published a new study about just how vital online and mobile giving has been to the nonprofit sector lately, with particular success seen after disasters such as Haiti or 9/11. At the same time, Apple has denied nonprofits to accept donations via their apps, which is causing some major discussion in the field. I recently blogged about this topic as well.

Aside from these three major environmental trends, there are two other issues slowly evolving that could end up having a huge impact on the sector in 2011:

  1. IRS tax-exempt status revocations: As a result of the Pension Protection Act of 2006, there are about 400,000 nonprofits in danger of losing their tax-exempt status because they have failed to file annual returns with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) for fiscal years 2007, 2008, and 2009. GuideStar has distributed multiple press releases about it, the latest in October. This will be a HUGE game-changer in 2011.
  2. Tax implications: Bloomberg Businessweek recently interviewed Dan Moore, GuideStar’s Vice President of Nonprofit Programs, as part of a story on how estate tax changes may affect charitable giving. In addition, when President Obama and Congress begin tackling the federal government deficit next month, look for the charitable deduction to be up for serious debate. Both of these two tax issues could have a major impact on how and when people donate to charity.

It will, as always, be an interesting year!


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