Utilizing New Currencies For Cause

In Cone’s recent nonprofit brand report, we encouraged organizations to consider adopting “New Currencies” as an essential element to help boost their brands. These alternative forms of philanthropy include non-cash support such as in-kind donations, pro bono service and skilled volunteerism. Every organization needs dollars-in-hand to fulfill its mission, but when the financial resources of companies and consumers are dwindling, savvy nonprofits recognize the value to be found in more creative tender. These currencies allow organizations to expand the scope of sponsorships and engagement opportunities, and foster relationships even when traditional financial contributions are waning.  At a time when the nation is flush with volunteers – according to a new study from the Corporation for National and Community Service, Americans donated 8 billion hours of volunteer time in 2008 – this trend likely won’t reverse even when the economy recovers.

The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University found these philanthropy vehicles to resonate particularly well with Gen X donors.  Citizens in their 20s and 30s are more interested in social advocacy and engagement philanthropy and are more likely to want to work directly with organizations instead of just donating money.

The future landscape of philanthropy will include the next generation of not only high net-worth donors, but high-engagement contributors who want to offer their skills and engage in a more meaningful way.  As this shift occurs, nonprofits will need to prepare to accommodate this influx, including establishing the necessary space, guidance and structure for eager volunteers, a challenge many organizations are already experiencing.  Yet, for this effort comes the reward: the valuable assets skilled volunteers can provide include legal advice, IT support and consulting services, to name a few.


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