Please Wait a Moment


Using Foresight to Prepare for the Future (Part 2)

By Brandi McGrath Kong, Director of Member Services


In my last blog, we explored why foresight is important to organizations like Sertoma and looked at what questions our clubs should answer as they plan for the future. In this posting, we will dive a little deeper into the topic by examining four major factors occurring in today’s society that stand to significantly impact our membership.

According to convention keynote speaker Hannes Combest, FASAE, CAE, demographics, economic trends, technology and regulations are all likely to affect nonprofits in 2021 and beyond.

It is undeniable that the makeup of our society has changed. We are more diverse than ever before, so much so that the U.S. is expected to not have a racial majority by 2055. We have also experienced a major shift in the workforce, as the Baby Boomer generation has started to retire, Millennials have taken over the majority and Generation Z has entered the workplace.

So what do these changes mean for our clubs? As our membership ages, we must find ways to adapt our offerings and programs to welcome younger generations. Combest explains that while Millennials expect diversity, Generation Z demands it. Our clubs must reflect the communities where they exist and serve. Otherwise, they will potentially miss out on many membership and donor opportunities. We can’t afford to leave any money, whether it’s in the form of dues or donations, on the table.

Economic Trends
Memberships have long been impacted by economic conditions and it only makes sense. If people are struggling to pay their bills, supporting service organizations like ours through dues and donations is likely going to be one of the first things cut from the household budget. How can your club react and plan for that?

Combest encourages clubs to not just look at what is happening in the U.S. during their foresight planning process. She says that geopolitical events such as international trade problems, wars overseas, changing political systems, natural disasters and health crises can all influence the American economy. Here at home, inflation, homebuying and unemployment are some of the trends to watch.

From computers and tablets to smart household devices and personal virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri, technology has changed the way we live, work and play, explains Combest. Within Sertoma, it certainly influences our systems, communications and marketing, and its impact is only growing more and more every day.  This includes:

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI)
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data Usage (Customization)
  • Cashless Commerce (Donation Collection)

The regulatory environment is constantly changing. However, as a nonprofit organization that collects donations from individuals and companies, it’s important that your club and its leaders understand what is required to do business properly.  

Combest reminds clubs that they should be informed about national, state and local donation regulations. Stay up-to-date and make sure that your club is conforming with the changes. If you do not have someone with financial and/or legal expertise within your membership, seek professional assistance. 

What comes next?
Combest concludes that there are three best practices clubs can follow to keep the conversation on foresight going. 

  1. Discuss the impacts as a group. You need to have member buy in.
  2. Find area leaders to educate your membership on these topics. Local colleges can be an especially helpful resource.
  3. Utilize resources made available by headquarters. You can access these on-demand in the Sertoma Member Center

Note: You can access Combest’s full session on Sertoma’s YouTube channel.