The Times They Are A-Changin’: Adapting to a Shifting Industry

My staff and I recently noticed a shift in our SEO statistics and started looking at what our data analytics showed for our blog in 2017. The data showed that 49 percent of our readers are ages 18-34. This was a surprise to us. For years, our audience fell in the 45-54 age group. Now, as we learned, our audience is younger than it’s ever been, and we’ve been adapting. More importantly, I think this shift represents changes we’re seeing in the nonprofit sector in general.

If you’re in our shifting demographic you probably don’t have to move along, but know we’ve noticed that you’re here and we’re cooking up new ways to look at things.

The first is transparency with your constituency. Younger generations aren’t making a ton of money, yet they’re more willing to give. As willing as they are, they still want to know where their money is going when they donate. Take steps to become more transparent by showcasing some of your nonprofit’s recent work on your website, social media and in your newsletters.

Another trend that I think will outlive the “trend” phase is personal storytelling as a marketing tactic. Younger generations love the idea of putting a face to a cause because it gives them something to relate to. So ask people to tell their stories of success and promote those on your platforms.

Finally, a movement we’ve seen grow recently and that I think we’ll be seeing a lot of in the future is collective impact initiatives. Collective impact is essentially getting together with someone else in your community to solve an issue that’s affecting your community. In 2017, we saw this in everything from neighborhood planning projects to the Women’s March on Washington. The younger generation is all about putting their differences aside, getting together and working in unison to make progress. In 2018, explore ways that your nonprofit can collaborate with others to achieve its mission.

There’s a big leadership transition happening right now, and for those nonprofits that have been around the block a couple times, it’s a weird spot to be in. Though basic things like building relationships are still key for every nonprofit, we have to take notice of new trends, too. There are ways the younger generation is influencing the sector that I think we can all get behind.

So what does this mean for you? We’ll still be living our mission of making nonprofits more remarkable, but the way we go about it might look a little different. And that’s okay—remember that if you’re not changing and adapting with the times, your organization could suffer.


Randy Hawthorne

As the former Executive Director and Editor for Nonprofit Hub and a Professional Certified Marketer, Randy shares his passions of marketing and education with nonprofits to help them implement marketing and organizational leadership principles so they can grow their organizations. Randy lends his marketing and organizational leadership expertise to a number of nonprofits in his community. Outside the office, Randy works with high school and college students and mentors young professionals to develop their leadership and entrepreneurial skills.

February 6, 2018

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