What’s your 5-year Nonprofit Plan?

A recent article in Fast Company projected what it may take to secure a nonprofit job in 2020 (only five years from now!). This market research paints a telling picture of what the nonprofit landscape will look like in the years to come.

The nonprofit market is growing, both in demand and opportunity. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 11% more college grads took jobs with nonprofits in 2009 compared to just the prior year. Conversely, growth in the nonprofit sector was only 2% between 2000 and 2010. How do we get numbers like this? Many market watchers point to the well-publicized desire of Millennials to do work that makes a difference, work that is important to them. This drive often includes considering jobs in the nonprofit sector because of the direct connection between effort and positive results relative to a cause they support.

Another thing Millennials bring to the nonprofit picture is a familiarity with technology that focuses on experience. The days when a website or social media presence depended strictly on sticky content are fast disappearing. Content is still vital, but today’s young professionals are looking for experiential content, not static content. They want to be moved or inspired or entertained. Not preached at or downloaded on.

This dynamic should signal a key change in the marketing and human resource infrastructure of nonprofits hoping to engage younger people. If you are looking to connect with or hire today’s 20 or 30 somethings, you better bring the experience. Anything else will be foreign or outdated to them.

Crowdfunding and micro-funding are also changing the marketplace. This will be a big shift for most established nonprofits. These organizations have learned to be dependent on big ticket donors and fundraising dinners, golf tournaments and gala events. These all still work, but there’s a generation coming up that would much rather connect a different way. They want to give, but they don’t want to schmooze, and they don’t golf. They do, however, generously support what they care about.

You might be reading this and feel yourself resisting. If that’s the case, consider this: in the next five years the market will completely change. Millennials will make up about half the workforce by 2020. If you don’t know how to communicate with them, you will cut your market by half. Can you afford that?