Nonprofit Outlook 2017

A new administration brings with it a new political climate, and as we know from that Al Gore thing a few years ago, climate change is a big deal (left-wing conspiracy or not). Changes in the political atmosphere are felt most strongly among those at the bottom of the food chain. We are speaking of course about nonprofit organizations, and many at the moment are scrambling to adapt to a change in sentiment.

On first glance, the outcome may seem counterintuitive. Let’s start with an obvious one: Planned Parenthood. The new Trump administration has been vocal in its denouncement of Planned Parenthood and promises to defund taxpayers’ stake in the organization. At the same time, the nonprofit reports more than 300,000 donations since the election, with over 70% of those coming from first-time donors.

Like Planned Parenthood, those nonprofit organizations most likely to be negatively affected by Trump’s policies are more likely to bring in new donations, whether those policies actually play out or not. Nonprofits related to immigrant amnesty will likely garner similar support. The outlook for organizations focused on women in general is very good. If changes to the ACA are implemented as planned, those nonprofits focused on healthcare for the uninsured will likely also flourish.

Nonprofit organizations are the masters of underdog status, and public outcry one way or the other almost always yields a defensive reaction from its donors and followers. On the other hand, the Achilles heel of any nonprofit is perception that the organization’s main issue is solved or no longer relevant. Those organizations most helped by the Trump administration’s policies will have a much more difficult time than they did under the Obama administration.

The trend is pretty straightforward. Nonprofits are at their best when on the defensive, and the tide of battle just took a swing in the opposite direction. It’s mostly a fair trade. Fundraising can be more difficult when you’re winning, but hey, you’re winning. It’s an existential moment for many nonprofits across the nation, who are at this moment asking themselves whether winning is the real objective, or if they prefer the job more during the fight.

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