The Future of Nonprofit Technology: Some Predictions

Submitted by Brett on Fri, 10/01/2010 - 10:17am

By Nancy Lublin, CEO and Chief Old Person,

If I had a crystal ball... I'd sell it and donate the money to But here are some predictions about the future of the not-for-profit world, in no specific order.

1. More organizations will depend on mobile donations. It doesn't feel like real money to people, because they text and the contribution is simply added to their bill. And, at an event, it is a means of taking action immediately. Expect this form of fundraising to mushroom.

2. More orgs will hire CTOs. Technology will finally enter the c-suite of not-for-profit orgs. Is it because we like hiring more senior people? No. We'll still be cheapskates. But as open source code bases like Drupal become more popular, not-for-profits will realize that we no longer need to outsource to technology firms because building a platform is cheap and easy and keeping up with upgrades is important. Other orgs will finally learn what I've known for 5 years: bring it in-house and don't silo your tech people, make one of them a c-suite leader.

3. More rockstars like Invisible Children, Charity:Water, and DonorsChoose will rise from nowhere and capture our hearts. Its easier than ever to create a not-for-profit and generate a big splash with a little stone. The hottest org in 2020? It probably hasn't been imagined yet and the founder is likely in high school right now. It is easier than ever to start a not-for-profit org and blow up the brand, thanks to social media (which is free).

4. The United States not-for-profit sector (which is currently growing at a faster rate than the US economy) will employ more than 10% of the US workforce.

5. The March of Dimes, which helped cure polio more than 50 years ago, will still exist.

6. Social entrepreneurship will be a major at dozens of colleges nationwide.

7. The Form 990 will be more than 80 pages. (It is currently 37 pages of fun, so why not double the fun?)

8. My grandfather will still be calling me in the middle of the day at home, expecting to find me there because running a not-for-profit isn't a "real job" in his mind. Its volunteer work, right?

9. Accountants will perform pro bono services, helping not-for-profits create good fiscal policies and systems. Lawyers contribute billions of dollars worth of free time each year, at the strong suggestion of the American Bar Association. It is my hope that accountants will follow suit, so to speak. Lawyers have managed to provide pro bono services without sacrificing quality or conflict. I am hopeful that accountants can maintain the integrity of their services, while dropping many of the fees.

10. Corporate cause-marketing will generate $8 billion a year in advertising and marketing spends, as every for-profit company (from inception) will have a cause.

11. Organizations will still host chicken dinner fundraisers. Someone who a lot of people want to suck up to will be honored. The program will be an obscure font. And the goodie bag will contain a key chain, a pen from a local bank, and (if you are lucky) an obscure lipstick color.

Since August 2003, CEO and Chief Old Person Nancy Lublin has overseen's growth and led the effort to begin awarding more grant money to young people who want to make a difference. She turned the organization from a debt-ridden, "old school" not-for-profit with offices in multiple cities nationwide, to a fast-moving internet-y company capturing the attention of a generation of doers. Read Nancy's full bio.

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