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Launching the Latest Nonprofit Trends Report: How We Designed a Global Study

Nonprofit Trends report cover image Salesforce Lionheart

The 5th edition of the Salesforce Nonprofit Trends Report is finally here. Many of the findings are surprising. Others are provocative. The intention behind the report? To help you move your mission forward.

The report is based on quantitative and qualitative interviews with more than 1,600 nonprofit professionals in seven countries around the world. We worked with an independent research firm, Reputation Leaders Ltd, to conduct the research. The dozens of charts, tables, and nonprofit CEO quotes — which we struggled to squeeze into its more than 50 pages — provide a thought-provoking overview of the state of the nonprofit sector. It illustrates how technology is supporting nonprofit resiliency and success.

The digital maturity index

In previous reports, we’ve explored the idea of organizational “digital maturity.” To focus on the benefits of digital adoption for nonprofits, we created the Salesforce for Nonprofits Digital Maturity Index based on answers to five simple questions. This tool helps nonprofits understand where they are on their digital journey. 

Every time we have explored this area, we’ve found that nonprofits that score better on this Digital Maturity Index are significantly more likely to exceed their mission, fundraising, volunteering, and other goals. The same is true in this edition.

But what about organizational culture? As we emerge into a post-pandemic world, nonprofits in every country are working to steady themselves. They are renewing relationships with donors, volunteers, and hard-to-replace employees. Indeed, the report finds that, after fundraising, the top nonprofit priorities for the next year are “retaining staff” and “employee wellbeing.”

Nonprofit Trends Report, 5th edition chart showing that employee retention and wellbeing are top priorities, second only to fundraising

This is understandable since we found that only a quarter of nonprofit employees or managers said they felt highly motivated.

Nonprofit Trends Report, 5th edition chart showing that 25% of nonprofit employees are highly motivated, 41% are somewhat motivated, 17% are passive and 17% are demotivated.

Evaluating relationships that drive change

This year, we wanted to expand our understanding of nonprofit relationships. We explored the impact of digital maturity on nonprofit relationships — particularly with external stakeholders and employees. We asked: Does the digital maturity needed to create a data-informed organization improve relationships with donors, volunteers, and employees?

The answers were revealing. We found that nonprofits with higher digital maturity said their relationships with all stakeholders were stronger — particularly with program participants. This confirms that investing in digital infrastructure supports not only fundraisers, marketers, and employees, but, most importantly, the program participants that are the priority for many nonprofits.

Nonprofit Trends Report, 5th edition chart showing that digital maturity fortifies relationships with all stakeholders.

Employees are at the center

Aside from fortifying relationships, high digital maturity offers benefits for nonprofit staff. Digitally mature nonprofits were:

  • 3.5x more likely to say they have highly-motivated employees
  • 1.7x more likely to say their organization had a healthy workplace culture
  • 1.3x more likely to have lower levels of staff burnout
  • 1.7x more likely to be optimistic about the future of their organization

As we all adopt digital technology in our personal lives, it makes sense that nonprofit employees thrive when automation reduces manual work. With technology that simplifies their work life, employees can focus on what matters.

What’s next for digitally mature nonprofits?

Digitally mature nonprofits are successful nonprofits. So, what are their priorities for next year? They’re planning to focus on cybersecurity and data privacy, add new programs and services, and further embrace remote work.

Nonprofit Trends Report, 5th edition chart showing that digitally mature nonprofits are prioritizing cybersecurity, new programs or services, and remote working..

The fifth edition of the Salesforce Nonprofit Trends Report covers much more, including:

  • Which cause areas have the strongest and weakest relationships with donors, volunteers, employees, and regulators
  • The differences between how nonprofit senior leaders and managers describe their workplace culture
  • How many nonprofits have recently made Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (“DEI”) efforts, and what those were
  • How many nonprofits have sustainability targets, and what progress they have made 

For these and many other insights, download the 5th Salesforce Nonprofit Trends Report.

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