Top 5 Nonprofit Buzzwords of 2014

main.pngI know it’s only early November, but-let’s face it–stores are already decked out for Christmas, so it doesn’t seem too early to do a 2014 retrospective. As a board, YNPN Twin Cities has committed in our new strategic plan to being and supporting other members in being thought leaders in sector-wide conversations.

So, in order to get that conversation going, I’ve developed a list of 5 “buzzwords” or terms that I think are highly relevant to what has gone on in the nonprofit sector–and in particular in Minnesota’s sector–in 2014.

The top 5 nonprofit sector buzzwords in 2014: 

1. Hashtag Activism / Slacktivism: With the virality of the #ALSIceBucketChallenge, lots of questions have been raised around whether it matters if charitable giving is the result of meaningful engagement with a cause or a gimmicky, peer-pressure induced action. However, with ALS announcing that the viral fundraising phenomenon raised donations by 1,000 percent, there’s no doubt that this made an impact in charitable giving in the U.S. in 2014 and that other nonprofits will be looking to viral fundraisers as a source of fundraising inspiration in the coming year.

2. Privacy, Cyber Security: With the hacking of the Chase Corporate Challenge and GoodWill Inc. this year, cyber security has officially moved beyond being a concern of corporations. It should make all of us in the nonprofit world start being very critical of how much and which data we collect and store from stakeholders.

3. Board Nonfeasance: With the Community Action of Minneapolis debacle all over the news this fall, it’s a good reminder of the fiduciary responsibility of serving on a board. It’s also a call to defend the sector from those who would use an issue like this to paint the whole sector as easily corruptible.  

4. B Corps, Social Impact: Legislation allowing for companies to classify themselves as B-Corps passed in Minnesota this year. The jury is still out whether this is really a boon to the nonprofit sector or not.  In the meantime, conversations about quantifying and investing in social impact continue. The Low Income Investment Fund has created an open-source social impact calculator that uses high-quality research to put a dollar value on the benefit of affordable housing, equitable transit-oriented development (TOD), early childhood, education and community health centers. This is no doubt that conversations around social impact are influencing how foundations give.

5. #FundThePeople & Living Wage: For us “NextGen” leaders, it’s exciting to see this push to encourage foundations to invest more heavily in talent the sector (we’re also happy to see Minnesota-based Bush Foundation shows up in their list of foundations who do currently invest in talent!). And speaking of investing in talent, it’s interesting to note thatsome states are exempting nonprofits from their new living wage laws. Minnesota does not offer a nonprofit exemption, but instead stratifies wage by organizational size. How other states are setting up the law begs the question of why nonprofits are not being held accountable for being strategic or equitable in recruiting and maintaining talent.   

Other buzzwords of interest: Student Debt continued to be a hot topic this year with Obama delivering on some promises to shorten the debt forgiveness period for individuals working in public service. Bitcoinalso seems to be a fringe topic in fundraising that might become something more in 2015?

What is missing? What are some buzzwords you saw as important in the sector in 2014?

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