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The Top Nonprofit Trends for 2022

It’s that time of year again when we announce the top nonprofit trends for 2022!

These past few years have proven that we certainly can’t predict the future. However, we can analyze and report on what nonprofits are doing to maximize their impact going forward. 

This article will project advances in community-forward technology, nonprofit management, fundraising, and philanthropy. We’ll also explore the (near) future of volunteerism. 

What can nonprofit organizations expect in 2022? Find out in our guide to nonprofit trends, 2022 edition.

Article Contents:

  1. Nonprofit Technology Trends
  2. Nonprofit Management Trends
  3. Nonprofit Fundraising and Philanthropy Trends
  4. Nonprofit Volunteerism Trends
   Trends in nonprofit technology for 2021

Nonprofit Trends 2022: Technology 

Today’s nonprofits and community organizations rely on technology to make a greater impact. The right technology is efficient and cost-effective, allowing nonprofit professionals to continue to deliver essential services. 

Technology is also changing the way people support community causes. Embrace these trends to boost your fundraising and marketing efforts and simplify volunteer management.

So, what’s the biggest theme for 2022? 

We’re seeing apps and services that increase flexibility and accessibility for volunteers, donors, and the nonprofits that engage them!

The Importance of Social Media

Social media is more important than ever to engage supporters!

In 2021, some reports show up to 4.48 billion people actively using social media in the world, showing an increase of 13% or 3.69 billion in 2020. This number is expected to rise even more in 2022. This equates to nearly 9 out of 10 people with internet access using social media. 

Social media has become a must for nonprofits looking to market their program and engage supporters. So if you haven’t already, consider boosting your social media presence in the coming year. 

How can nonprofits use social media? 

Social media is a place to:

  • Share snippets of your story through videos and images 
  • Promote a giving campaign 
  • Show volunteers in action, 
  • Introduce followers to your cause 
  • And don’t forget to use hashtags!

Creating a communications plan is key. You’ll want your messaging to stay consistent across all platforms, but tailoring your social post to the specific strengths of each platform will increase engagement.

Starting a movement (locally and beyond!)

Social media has become integral to drawing attention to community needs and for creating engaged momentum for social movements. It’s also the way younger generations are getting involved. Gen Z is a cause-driven generation, and they’re communicating through social media. For example, the Black Lives Matter movement mobilized thousands of supporters through social media, and Gen Z led the charge.

Movements on social media are most powerful when messaging is transparent and consistent. Making sure you have a hashtag or handle that is easily recognizable and consistent with your message is important. But using social media to start a movement is more than just a hashtag.

This tech trend works best when you understand how other organizations leverage the power of social media in starting a movement for their causes by:

Coordinating in-person events by sharing information and asking others to share on their profiles

“Town council meeting this week! Attend if you’re able and share this to spread the word!”

Sharing community needs 

“Local family in need”

Livecasting on location

“We’re here today at the United Way community celebration! Let’s take a look around…”

Asking for donations

“Head to the link in our bio to make a donation today”

This engagement can be created whether you’re a local organization, regional, national, or even global!

Wild Apricot offers this concise guide to social media for nonprofits.

But which social platforms should you focus on?

Social networking is a quickly changing environment, so understanding who you’re trying to reach will help you figure out where to reach them. Pew Research shows that Facebook is still the most widely used social network with 2.9 billion monthly active users. While Instagram and TikTok are most popular with the under 30 age group. 

Some of your supporters likely log into their favorite social platform multiple times a day! 

For nonprofits struggling to engage the next generation of supporters, it’s important to stay updated on social media trends. As more Gen Z members enter the workforce, engaging them will become especially important to sustaining nonprofit causes in 2022.

Social media users by age

Tik Tok is the platform of choice for Gen Z with 37.3 million members of this demographic logging in regularly. It’s not just dances and fun trends! It turns out there’s so much more to the short-form video streaming platform. Last year the company launched Tik Tok For Good, an initiative for community-focused organizations and amplifying voices for change. Tik Tok For Good is in its early stages, so just put it on your radar for now.

Instagram is used by 37% of adults in the United States and 6 out of 10 of these users log into the platform every day! This platform is strong for visual storytelling with photos and videos. Use this one for sharing calls to action and community engagement. Instagram stories, with their sharing features, have become a popular way for causes to receive support as they encourage followers to share the post in their stories as well, thus growing the visibility. If you’re on Instagram, time sharing Stories is well spent.

Facebook is still the largest social platform used by 2.8 billion people worldwide. Though the smallest number of users come from younger populations, Facebook offers robust Events capabilities making it a great option for recurring or special event promotion and community engagement. 

It’s likely that your supporters representing specific age brackets are spending time on their time on different platforms. For 2022, to reach your nonprofit’s ideal audience, choosing at least 2 or 3 social platforms will be your best bet. This way, you’ll be able to reach your donors, current volunteers, and prospective volunteers. Create a social media strategy for each, test the waters, and track your progress. 

A pro tip here is to ask your current donors and volunteers which social platforms they use regularly, then meet them there. Take it a step further, and while recruiting new supporters of different age demographics, ask them where they spend time on social media!

Going Mobile

You’ve heard it enough: we’re more attached to our smartphones than ever before. Smartphone users are set to reach 271 million by 2022 in the U.S. alone. People are using their phones to check social media, perform web searches, and make purchases. In fact, worldwide ad spending is predicted to exceed 280 billion dollars by 2022

In 2022 we’re likely to see increased smartphone use here to stay and steadily growing. 

Nonprofits can leverage these statistics by ensuring their content and donations pages are mobile-friendly. We recommend you prioritize these mobile-friendly elements:

  • Donations – Your supporters should be able to make donations to your organization on their phones. Add Apple Pay or another mobile-friendly payment system. 
  • Volunteer Registration – Volunteers will find and register for volunteer opportunities on their mobile devices. Nonprofits will benefit from ensuring their volunteer opportunity listings are mobile-friendly. 
  • Contactless Volunteer Check-in – Volunteers have more ways to check in to the opportunities they’ve signed up for using volunteer management systems and volunteer apps. Moving away from paper is easier than ever. Mobile check-in is especially important for large-scale events and volunteerism that occur in multiple locations.  
  • Email Content (including embedded elements) – Lots of us read our emails on the go. Make sure your email content, like links and images, displays correctly on mobile devices.
  • Webpage Videos and Images – These days, people are consuming more video content on their phones. According to Yans Media, mobile video consumption was 57-75% of total videos watched online in 2021. The average person watches 30 minutes of video a day on their mobile device. Make sure your support base can load and view your site’s videos and images without a hitch. We recommend you upload your videos to Youtube, then embed the link into your webpage. 

In 2021, more 5G infrastructure rolled out nationwide. Faster networks are making it easier for smartphone users to connect to web-based mobile apps, load webpages, and stream live video. With access to 5G, your supporters may be even more likely to use a smartphone to access your website and find volunteer and donorship opportunities.

Texting (SMS): Changing How You Reach Supporters

We see it everywhere: businesses asking consumers to sign up for text message alerts to receive promotional updates. Last year this trend picked up steam and now it feels the norm. A growing number of consumers say they’re comfortable receiving text messages from brands. 

But texting isn’t a strategy limited to for-profit businesses. 

We’ve seen a steep rise in on-the-ground organizing over the last two years. And more community organizations are using text messaging to drive action. 

Because of the effectiveness of texting, it’s no surprise many nonprofit management solutions have caught on and now offer text messaging to reach supporters: text messages have an open rate of 99%! Compare that with most emails having an average open rate of 28-33%.

Additionally, about 97% of those messages are opened within 15 minutes of receiving. 

Those are stats that anyone in nonprofit management looking to boost engagement can get excited about! There’s certainly a future for text messaging in all facets of nonprofit management, from “text-to-donate” fundraising to communicating with volunteers in the field. 

Before you jump on board, your supporters must consent to receive text messages from you. Start by collecting mobile numbers during volunteer or donor registration and include terms of agreement for receiving text messages. 

Video Marketing and Fundraising

Did you know that 57% of people who watch a nonprofit video make a donation?

The lesson here? Nonprofits can benefit enormously by using video for their marketing and fundraising campaigns. Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals generated millions of donations through a live streaming campaign. 

In 2022, look into new ways to add video content to your organization’s marketing efforts. We found this guide for creating a nonprofit video marketing strategy especially useful. 

Technology shouldn’t replace the social interaction that makes volunteers happier and healthier. However, it can help nonprofits improve the way they operate to do more good in their communities.

Remote Collaboration and Video Conferencing

We’ve been video conferencing for a while now. But video conferencing and remote collaboration are sticking around, likely for good. Thanks to apps like Google Docs and Zoom (Facebook even launched their own video conferencing app), remote work is even more achievable. 

Working remotely is probably a consistent reality for many in 2022. Look for ways to add flexibility to volunteer and donor opportunities by offering remote options when appropriate.

  Trends in nonprofit management for 2021

Nonprofit Trends 2022: Nonprofit Management

Let’s shift our focus inward. What will nonprofit management look like in 2022? Here’s what we found:

Inclusive and Diverse Leadership

The past few years have shown encouraging strides when it comes to inclusive and diverse leadership in nonprofits. Thankfully, more organizations are making a concerted effort to establish thoughtful leadership practices.

Many nonprofit management conferences hosted keynote speakers and breakout sessions with special topics on diversity, equity, and inclusion. DEI facilitators who specialize in nonprofits have been in-demand as many organizations make important changes to re-evaluate and create new ways of working that benefit everyone from the people served, volunteer base, employees. 

Using the past two years as a time to pivot, re-evaluate, and create anew is the theme for moving forward into the new year. If you haven’t already, make 2022 the year to evaluate your organization’s leadership structure and ensure it’s representing an appropriate range of community voices. 

The National Council of Nonprofits offers these helpful guidelines for your organization to consider when beginning your DEI plan.

Transparency is Key in Data Storytelling

By definition, nonprofits must be agents of transparency to maintain 501(c)(3) status. But transparency is becoming increasingly important to your community supporters. 

Tracking and reporting data like volunteer impact can help you win grants and attract more donors and volunteers. 

For-profit companies reporting with transparency has become increasingly important to their customers; consumers want to know they’re purchasing socially-responsible products and services. Likewise, nonprofit donors and volunteers like to understand how their efforts make a lasting difference and where their contributions are going. 

But transparency isn’t the tricky part; nonprofits can struggle with keeping track of their data (and lots of it!). That’s why organizations rely on digital tracking tools to collect the data that tells their impact stories. Here’s another place where we’re seeing the power of tech supporting the power of sharing your organization’s work in the world. 

Some nonprofits are sharing this data-driven transparency alongside impact stories directly to their social media profiles and we’re likely to see this trend continue to gain steam.

Staying Mission-Focused

Many nonprofits have used this pivotal time as an opportunity to shift perspectives, gain valuable feedback, and use everything that has been learned to create anew. This has supported becoming even more grounded and clear on their mission. 

A record number of nonprofits are competing for the public’s attention and resources. Thom Ruhe, President and CEO of NC IDEA, urges, “the nonprofit sector, more than ever before, will need to stay mission-focused and clear about their priorities. We will need to be the safe port in the storm.” 

What’s more, the pandemic has forced many nonprofits to make significant adjustments in the way they operate, from pausing operations entirely to shifting focus toward more immediate community needs. 

The new year is the natural time for nonprofit organizations to review missions, goals, and procedures in light of current fundraising and volunteer engagement strategies. 2022 is your year to regroup, refocus your mission, and communicate your intentions to stakeholders.

   fundraising and philanthropy trends for 2021

Nonprofit Trends 2022: Fundraising and Philanthropy

What are the current trends in philanthropy and nonprofit fundraising? Let’s look at the state of charitable giving to help shape your 2022 fundraising strategy:

A Personalized Donor Experience

Today’s consumers are more likely to purchase a product if they receive personalized communication, and nonprofit fundraising trends follow suit. So it’s more important than ever to build better relationships with your donors. 

In 2022, fundraising should feel less transactional and more personal. But personalized fundraising is about more than just using a name on an email. Donors who engage with your cause on a deeper level are more likely to become loyal supporters. 

Here are some ways to create better donor relationships:

  • Get to know your donors, large or small, and make an appropriate donor recommendation.
  • Don’t just ask. Demonstrate that your organization shares their values.
  • Provide opportunities for your existing volunteers and donors to contribute their ideas and feedback.
  • Share donor impact

Nonprofits are finding continued success with membership programs that offer tangible benefits. These benefits may include swag (like t-shirts, hats, water bottles), VIP admission to an event, or any other perk that the donor receives in exchange for their annual contribution. 

Donor membership programs can account for a considerable percentage of total online revenue for nonprofits. Memberships are an opportunity to boost revenue and bolster donor loyalty. 

In 2022, consider appropriate ways to provide donors with an authentic and engaging giving experience.

A Direct Way to Ask

Charitable organizations have often used their past successes to appeal to donors, asking for donations to continue their efforts. However, this model may prove less effective going into 2022. 

Today’s donors want to know their contributions are making a difference.  Millennials and Generation Z are especially motivated by a sense of social responsibility; they want to be a part of the change-making process. 

To engage the next generation of donors, you will need to change how you ask for funds. 

This article suggests using the following outline to appeal to donors:

  • There’s a problem occurring right now.
  • You’re needed to solve the problem.
  • Here’s how your gift, or time, will solve the problem.

This model tends to engage the proactive donor by identifying a current need and shifting the focus from the past to the present.

Monthly Giving on the Rise

Subscription services are flourishing—and that’s no surprise. Smaller, monthly payments that automatically renew tend to be more manageable and convenient for consumers, while companies enjoy increased customer retention

The concept has influenced philanthropy trends, too. Monthly givers tend to donate more over time than their counterparts who donate once per year. The annual value of regular givers is worth nearly three times more than that of one-time donors! 

Check out this article for ways your organization can promote monthly giving.

Online Fundraising: A Major Source of Revenue

Digital philanthropy is widely favored among donors (and the nonprofits they support). Nonprofits have reported a 77% increase in online revenue over the past five years! 

Email still accounts for 13% of online giving, but successful email fundraising can require a bit of strategy. This article by Whole Whale is a great resource to help nonprofits like yours to optimize fundraising emails. 

Despite Facebook’s rocky past, nonprofits see steep increases in revenue from a peer-to-peer fundraising tool called Facebook Fundraisers. On average, nonprofits raised $1.77 through Facebook for every $100 of total online revenue.

The uptick in direct donation platforms like Facebook Fundraisers and Instagram suggests that it’s worth diversifying online fundraising efforts. Many nonprofits rely on social media to help supplement fundraising efforts, and we don’t see that changing in 2022.

Smarter Fundraising in the Face of Disaster

Experts are predicting a surge in environmental activism over the next ten years as communities demand action. And as natural disasters become increasingly devastating, disaster prevention and recovery teams rely more on the goodwill of individual citizens. 

Many disaster funds receive outpourings of charitable donations from individuals and corporations immediately after a disaster event. However, funding can just as quickly subside, even when significant need remains. 

If your nonprofit gets involved in disaster mitigation and relief, the Center for Disaster Preparedness suggests shifting the focus from short-term, reactionary giving toward a more sustainable, strategic giving plan to have the most impact. 

Here are some smarter ways to prepare for a disaster:

  • Plan ahead: Have a program in place, ready to collect donations or lend services for planning, recovery, and immediate relief efforts.
  • Think holistically: How can your organization, your volunteers, and their skill sets make a difference?
  • Be strategic and sustainable: Waiting for a disaster to strike before we act is unsustainable. A changing climate calls for creative thinking and preparation. Support innovative prevention, mitigation, and adaptability programs.

Research shows that disaster-relief giving can heighten “prosocial behavior such as charitable giving and volunteering in the long-term.” Ensure your nonprofit has a program in place to receive donations and supplies when disaster strikes (and consider partnering with your community’s disaster mitigation efforts).

Capitalizing on Corporate Giving

Corporate giving saw a small increase of 1.4% in 2021, while some estimates see that growing significantly in 2022, possibly between 4-6% growth. While many factors affect giving tendencies, experts suggest that corporate philanthropy in 2022 will be impacted most by (1) growth in GDP and (2) growth in corporate savings. The belief is, with the availability of vaccines, there will be a time of economic growth.

Many nonprofits rely on corporate partnerships to sustain their programming. So, nonprofits must look to adopt best practices when it comes to leveraging corporate philanthropy in 2022.

An expanding variety of giving options reinforces upward trends in corporate philanthropy. One promising option is impact investing, an emerging movement in which investments are made in companies, funds, or organizations to create social impact in addition to financial gain. 

More choices make workplace donation programs more appealing to employees and support modern principles of corporate governance. According to the Philanthropy Outlook for 2020-2021, companies have begun to recognize the benefits of focusing on their employees’ philanthropic interests. In fact, 58% of Americans consider a company’s social and environmental commitments when deciding where to work. 

Companies that allow employees to choose the causes or organization to give their donation experience greater employee engagement with workplace giving programs. 

Regardless of how companies and their employees choose to give, strong corporate partnerships will become increasingly necessary to sustain nonprofits. 

   Nonprofit Trends 2022

Nonprofit Trends 2022: Volunteerism

Over the past two years, we’ve seen some shifts in volunteerism as many of us supported our favorite causes from home. But many nonprofits are choosing to continue to leverage these volunteerism trends:

Virtual First and Hybrid Events

Even with the initial disruption to traditional volunteering in 2020, we saw a big comeback in 2021. And it’s projected 2022 will be even stronger. However, the virtual first environment is now the expectation. Prospective volunteers want to get involved (especially the cause-driven Gen Z) but they do expect to learn about your organization online first before making a commitment to volunteer. This is a strong call to up the tech presence with streamlined registration and a well functioning volunteer site

The next expectation is options. For consistent engagement from your volunteer base, your organization will need to include hybrid options. Meaning, opportunities for both in-person and remote volunteerism, or a combination of the two. The same is true for special events.

We’ve noticed the growing popularity of virtual and hybrid events; they’re great for boosting attendance. Consider adding virtual streaming and online attendance options for your 2022 fundraising or volunteer event. Adding the addition of donation buttons for the online version while the traditional envelopes for pledges are passed around on location. This feels like it will equal more work, but as programs streamline their new flow with this reality, it can lend itself to more participation and more cohesive campaigns.

Virtual Volunteerism: Here to Stay

COVID-19 changed the way we volunteer. Virtual volunteers have become essential to the sustainability of many nonprofits. Even if your organization welcomed volunteers back in person in 2021, there are innumerable benefits to continuing to leverage virtual volunteerism.

Volunteers are eager to support your mission, but they don’t want to compromise the health and safety of others. Virtual volunteering is an effective solution: to have a positive impact when our communities need it most. 

Many volunteers cite busy schedules as the largest barrier to volunteering. Volunteering from home offers busy people the flexibility to make a difference in their own time and in their own space. Plus, virtual volunteering is a creative way to engage tech-savvy kids and teens, especially during holiday breaks or after school! And, for homebound individuals, online volunteering offers additional inclusivity so that anyone can be a part of making an impact and feel valued.

Virtual volunteerism not only benefits the volunteer, but also the community, and organization they support! In other words, virtual volunteering is just another way to build resiliency for your program while creating a sustainable community effort.

Welcoming Corporate Volunteerism

From employee volunteer grant programs to company-wide volunteer days, businesses are looking for creative ways to improve public image, lend a hand, and promote employee well-being. 

Accommodate employees’ goals and interests by suggesting opportunities to foster meaningful corporate partnerships. Processes like simple team sign-up and volunteer impact reporting are inviting to businesses with workplace volunteer programs. Employees who have a positive experience volunteering through a company program are more likely to volunteer with your organization again (and refer their coworkers and friends)!

Nonprofits act as community hubs. They connect the private sector, donors, volunteers, stakeholders, and decision-makers. Heading into 2022, organizations like yours must have the tools they need to develop, maintain, and manage these relationships more easily. 

While it’s difficult to predict the exact course of future nonprofit trends, organizations can better prepare for a new year of change-making by remaining abreast of public sentiment toward giving and volunteering.

We hope that these insights will help you to better strategize for 2022.


Additional Resources

Technology Advancements in Volunteer Engagement

Streamline Your Volunteer Registration with Smart Technology

Nonprofit Social Media Strategy: How to Implement a Plan and Measure Success

How to Choose a Volunteer Management Software

The Importance of Communicating Impact to Volunteers

Author: Addison Waters