Big Things on the Horizon in 2023

On a recent episode of the Cause+Effect podcast, Trent Dunham and Nils Smith took a deep dive into some upcoming trends in the nonprofit space. They unpacked a few practical things you need to be prioritizing this year, including four core principles you can implement immediately.

If one thing can be said about innovative work in the nonprofit space, it’s this: Things rarely stay the same. And after the turn of a brand new year, it’s important to get a proper understanding of the climate and look ahead to what’s coming as you strategize for the year ahead.

So here are four things to prioritize as we move deeper into 2023:
1. Be aware of the long-term effects of inflation (and the implications for giving).

Should we prepare for a recession? What should we expect?

Here’s your biggest takeaway: Don’t panic.

Although we do find ourselves in a recessionary climate, all indicators in early 2023 point to a lighter recession than anticipated. Most of your donors are going to continue supporting your organization.

According to Giving USA, from 1981 to 2021 there were five different periods of economically challenging climates. And only once during those five did we see a decrease in giving.

There is wisdom in staying conservative and cautious with your budget. But at the same time, remember, your donors aren’t asking whether or not they should give. They’re asking, “Where am I going to give?”

Which leads to your next priority…

2. Be better than ever about telling your story.

Storytelling creates cut-through. It’s as simple as that.

No longer is it sufficient to just state facts and talk about numbers. Creating a compelling reason for people to support your organization using emotion and passion allows others to grasp how their giving helps the ultimate mission take place.

So what is storytelling at its best in 2023? (Glad you asked…)

The primary means by which people are consuming content on social media and click-through rates on emails is still video. Leveraging that medium to tell your story well and the outcome of your ministry can be a game-changer.

At the end of the day, it’s not about your organization. It’s about the ministry impact. Highlighting outcomes of changed lives and making the donor the hero will help people see that when they give, they are making stories like this possible.

For instance, one organization might report that 60 missionaries traveled down the Amazon and saw 120 people come to Christ. But what we’re often missing is the emotive aspect.

What is the danger involved? What happens when they find Jesus and hear this good news? How do you tell that story in a way that grips the heart of someone who may never be able to travel to the Amazon, but can be transported there through a powerful high quality video?

And remember, while video is powerful and should be prioritized, keep telling your story in email, direct mail, social media, and your website. Tell it over and over again in as many different ways as you can.

3. Have a strategy in place for legacy (planned) giving.

Do your donors know they can give to your organization through their estate? Do you have a strategy in place to build an awareness of legacy giving?

According to Forbes, baby boomers are expected to transfer $30 trillion in wealth to younger generations over the next many years. This jaw-dropping amount has led many journalists and financial experts to refer to this gradual event as the ‘great wealth transfer.’ And we’re on the front end of it.

Are you having conversations around planned legacy giving with some of your more invested donors who have made a significant commitment to the organization? What resources do you have to make that happen?

4. Unity is the superhighway to success: Invest in your team!

All that said, you can have the best strategy, assimilation program, outreach programs, or content of any ministry out there.

But if you are operating out of a less-than-ideal culture, it will limit the ability of your organization to be successful.

How much time do you currently spend building into your team and transferring the vision from leadership to everyone else?

We don’t hire people just to help accomplish a mission and they’re not robots that come in to fulfill a task. Study your team members. Create camaraderie in creative ways and go on outings together. Laugh often. This will motivate people to take ownership in every part of their job.

In Ephesians 4:3, Paul charges believers to be “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

You want to be more effective in 2023? Commit yourself to setting a tone of pursuing and maintaining unity this year. Make it your hallmark… and see if God doesn’t increase your impact for His kingdom in light of it.


For more insight from Nils and Trent on what’s coming this year and how to increase the effectiveness of your ministry or organization, be sure to listen to the Cause+Effect podcast, Big Things to Watch for in 2023

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