I’ve just finished reading Convergence: How Five Trends Will Reshape the Social Sector (PDF direct link – 856KB), a report released earlier this year by La Piana Consulting that looks at emerging trends in the nonprofit sector.
The report examines a number of key trends, including:
- Demographic shifts redefine participation
- Technological advances abound
- Networks enable work to be organized in new ways
- Interest in civic engagement and volunteerism is rising
- Sector boundaries are blurring
It suggests that current funding models need to be revisited, that a strong sense of core values and differentiation is important (I call this values-based branding), that organisational and partnering models may need to be considered, and that technology will play a key role in the nonprofits of the future.
These are the types of organisational challenges that social business design seeks to address. And the all, perhaps to different degrees, require a certain approach that relies heavily on an open and trusting culture. A difficult task for organisations that don’t already have these things in place.
I get a sense throughout the report that La Piana seem to be suggesting an approach not dissimilar to the “integrated flow” approach I advocate in the increasing surface area post from the other day.
It recognises and clearly places social media and network engagement in context and does a good job of expressing some of the challenges associated with it, as well as recognising the benefits including the low-cost nature of the tools themselves.
It also does a great job of presenting mini-case studies of nonprofits and social sector organisations that have successfully embraced some or all of these trends.
I would highly recommend the report to anyone working in nonprofits and NGOs, especially those in leadership/management positions, as I think it highlights many of the challenges nonprofits currently face, trends that are likely to increase in influence into the future.