by: Lindsay Denton, Copywriter
We've left 2020 behind with hopes for a brighter future. However, these few months of 2021 are proving that nonprofits will need more than just hope. Challenges that may impact the nonprofit sector in 2021 are too real to be dismissed easily. Keeping in mind the massive importance of the nonprofit sector for the ones it serves, we must anticipate these challenges and deal with them on time; the sooner, the better.
 
Heightened Demand for Services

If the last year showed us anything, it is how emotionally vulnerable we all are. Of all people who needed help, a small percentage asked for it openly. And even that modest percentage represented a large number of persons. It doesn't mean the psychological support was denied; there were simply too few of those who could provide it.

The health and safety measures, especially during the early period of the pandemic, stopped regular volunteers in their tracks and dissuaded new ones. Nonprofits needed to rely on layoffs, hiring freezes, and unpaid time off to weather the health crisis. In other words, to remain afloat enough to discover new ways to raise funds and provide any assistance at all. In such an environment, it was challenging to provide adequate support to all who necessitated it. Without proper adaptation, this trend might continue well into 2021. A way through is possible - nonprofits should digitize their services.

Nonprofits, in general, do not have a big problem adapting, most of them being flexible by the nature of their work. However, digitizing the vital services might take precious time, involvement in training, and other resources that may be lacking. This is yet another challenge, one that nonprofit organizations can overcome through cooperation if not downright merging.

 
Decrease in All Forms of Financing

One of the pillars of the nonprofit sector in 2021 is continuous financing. Reaching out to donors, including the acquisition of funds, has been manageable and well-organized before the pandemic. However, that has changed about a year ago.

Nonprofits cross-sector are reporting a perpetual decline in revenues. Fundraisers, in their most common form, have been canceled until further notice. Members are postponing payments, and grant funding and individual donations are drying up. A way to navigate this essential subject is to adapt to the circumstances as creatively as possible.Individual donations might find other ways to the ones in need, or nonprofits as focal points, for example, through crowdfunding platforms or online fundraisers. The fact is, despite the difficulties, people still show empathy and generosity. Nonprofits should not dismiss this incredible human potential but tap into it.
 
Engaging Supporters
 
Ensuring participation was a challenge last year and remains a mission for the current one, too. Why is this important? Nonprofits rely heavily on their employees as a resource. A brainstorming, creative, adaptable resource able to shoulder the trials of the ongoing situation together as a team. Engaging that team effectively is proving to be a hurdle not many organizations managed to overcome in the last year.
 
Additionally, there is a matter of interaction with the clients. Every interaction of a client with the nonprofit can be optimized with the right tools. The challenge is to recognize the time- and cost-effective solution. If you're the owner of a nonprofit struggling to engage your audience, you can use a CRM to improve your marketing activities, implement marketing automation, and enhance your client-centric strategy.
 
Refocusing Attention to Core Values
 
It has always been increasingly difficult to keep the focus on the mission and not the short-term goals. The two may seemingly overlap, but they diverge at a vital point - when it comes to obtaining the sources of financing. Most organizations were and are overburdened with the strife for resources, competing instead of developing nonprofit partnerships and cooperation.
 
Meeting the goals should not come before fulfilling the mission. Simply put, nonprofits should remember who they exist for, who they serve, and who their primary stakeholders are. Usually, it is always the same group of people - the most vulnerable ones. However, there is another layer to this issue.
 
The employees are emerging, more often than not, as the ones who also need assistance. Even the providers of aid need help in these trying times. Listening and acting on the employees' needs will make the organization more considerate and aware of its own possibilities. It is an excellent basis for when the moment comes to reach out to the rest, other nonprofits included.
 
Collaboration And Cooperation
 
There is a fine line between the two. While collaboration puts two parties together on the same road toward the shared goal, cooperation helps them achieve their particular goals together. Nonprofits can connect to do both with the help of messaging platforms and apps that make communication easier and faster.
 
The challenges presented to the nonprofit sector in 2021 may require that smaller organizations merge to navigate the crisis easily. Joining forces implies much more than joining inadequate financial resources. It is rather about brainstorming and ideas coming from professionals or members of different educational profiles, ages, and backgrounds.
 
Perhaps the biggest challenge in the area of cooperation is getting over the highlighted differences and focusing on them creatively and positively. Inclusion is emerging as more important than ever, not only for the benefit of an individual but also for the community.
 
Recovery
 
At some time during every crisis, people reach the point when they adapt to the disorder and navigate its tides with relative ease. It is a problem when the current slows down, and they need to readapt again. Recovery after a crisis is as natural a process as it is inevitable. Whether we call it the new normal or by any other name, nonprofits need to face it readily.
 
Once again, on a path to recovery, the biggest strengths of most nonprofits come into the spotlight: human resources and the capacity for innovation, the ability to adapt on the go, and their core values. To overcome the financial challenges put in front of the nonprofit sector in 2021, organizations will have to show resilience, creativity, and willingness to cooperate and collaborate for the greater good as well as their own.