7 Jan

Five Trends

by Darlyne Koretos

The article “Convergence – How Five Trends Will Reshape the Social Sector” advises us that “traditional approaches by nonprofits, funders, and capacity builders will fall short, and the old rules will no longer apply” because of the social, technological, and economic changes that are affecting all organizations. The report author, La Piana Consulting, identified five trends, and technology is central to each.

  1. Demographic shifts redefine participation
  2. Technological advances abound
  3. Networks enable work to be organized in new ways
  4. Interest in civic engagement and volunteerism is rising
  5. Sector boundaries are blurring

One of the most important aspects of these five trends — all of which are enabled by technology — is that they have the potential to change the role of money in the sector. These trends mean that more can happen at a lower cost – thanks to technology. For example:

  1. Technology lowers the cost and increases the impact of networks.
  2. Technology connects people with volunteer options that meet their needs.
  3. Technology will flatten the management structures in the workplace, streamline how nonprofits deliver services, and lower the cost of communicating with constituencies.

We know what Twitter and Facebook can do for democracy movements…and for volunteerism. What will mobile apps do for case management? What will central benefits portals do to free up time for low-income families? How can we use videoconferencing to increase our peer-to-peer opportunities? Technology makes it possible for people without the trappings of “organizational success” — big buildings, six-figure salaries, paid fundraisers and lobbyists — to impact the world in amazing ways.

It is clear that we can reinvent the social sector and dramatically increased its impact by spreading effective technology — as long as the technology is integrated into an organization’s processes and the people using it have enough training and support. In Convergence: “With the plethora of new technology tools comes the need to improve organizational ability to effectively choose among and use them.”

ESC-US affiliates bring to the community is the ability to leverage professional skills, including in some communities like Washington State, technology skills, as well as the consulting, coaching, and facilitation skills. Contact your closest affiliate and ask them about helping you make decisions about which technology and communications tools that allow you to get the most value from your technology investments.

What is just around the corner for your organization? How can you align with and benefit from these five trends?