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Increase in demand and financial viability are the key challenges for not for profit organisations

2024 marks our fourth annual not for profit leaders survey and report on strategic planning. The economy continues to provide challenges for the not for profit sector, but we are seeing new priorities for leaders compared to previous years. The report provides leaders with insights on best practice for developing and reviewing their plan to ensure they are managing their risk and meeting the goals of their organisation.

Report highlights

  • Developing and diversifying funding sources is a priority for 77% of respondents
  • 76% had seen an increase in demand for their services in the last 12 months and were anticipating a similar trend for the year ahead
  • Trends are indicating that employee turnover has decreased over the last three years
  • 83% of leaders are concerned about a cyber-attack on their organisation
  • Leaders are still exploring of technology and artificial intelligence
  • 91% of not for profit leaders believe AI and automation may have an impact on their organisation (however from our 2023 Financial Management report only 13% have a strong understanding of AI and it’s applications).

Not for Profit Leader's Report

Findings from our annual survey

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The report provides guidance on:

  • Strategy day best practice
  • Strategic plan inclusions and measurement tools
  • Assessing employee and customer satisfaction
  • Governance & risk management controls you should have in place
  • How to future-proof your organisation
  • How to access our Exclusive Not for Profit Community to network and collaborate with key NFP sector leaders.
"Effective strategic planning continues to be a challenge for leaders across all areas of the not for profit sector. It seems every time the economic, environmental or political landscape seems stable, a new challenge or crisis seems to pop up for not for profits to face."
Aidan Smith
Head of Not for Profit, HLB Mann Judd

Key findings

How often do you review and update your strategic plan?

Strategic Plan Graph 1

While updating a strategic plan more frequently may be beneficial in certain contexts, it's important for organisations to strike a balance between responsiveness and stability in their strategic planning processes. The frequency of updates should be tailored to the specific needs and circumstances of each organisation. The business plans that come out of the strategic plan should be updated on a more frequent basis.

Have you seen an increase or decrease in the need for your organisation's core services?

Strategic planning - customers

Do you anticipate an increase in demand for your services over the next 12 months?

Strategic planning customers graph 2

Not for profits are continuing to face challenges from the increased demand for services.

Over the last 12 months, what is your level of staff turnover?

strategic planning customers

Whilst there is no ‘ideal’ level of turnover for an organisation, a moderate level of turnover can be healthy as it allows for fresh perspectives, promotes innovation, and prevents stagnation.

Do you think AI and automation will impact your organisation?

We asked if you thought AI and automation would impact your organisation with 67 percent responding yes. With 24 percent unsure about the potential impact, this indicates a need for further understanding or assessment of how AI and automation could affect their organisation. Interesting, in our 2023 Financial Management Report only 13% of respondents had an solid understanding of AI and it’s applications. This shows us that further education is needed.

Strategic planning technology graph

What is the biggest single risk to your organisation?

With more than a quarter of respondents highlighting financial viability, we can determine that the current economic environment is having a negative effect on organisations. This has changed from our previous reports where employee resourcing and loss of reputation were the top results. This shift suggests that organisations are currently facing significant financial pressures, indicating a more challenging economic environment compared to the previous years.

Strategic planning governance graph

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About the Not For Profit Leader's Report

The Not For Profit Leaders Report is a semi-annual publication produced by HLB Mann Judd Sydney. It involves surveying leaders in the not for profit (NFP) community, focusing on key aspects of strategic planning in March, with findings shared in May. Similarly, in October, NFPs are surveyed again on financial management, with the corresponding report released in November.

In March 2024, we surveyed more than 100 not for profit leaders on strategic planning. Of those that responded, 60 percent were charities, 12 percent member or peak body organisations, 10 percent disability service providers, with the remainder split equally between social enterprise and aged care providers.

About HLB Mann Judd Sydney

Mann Judd in Sydney was formed in 1970 and over the past five decades has grown to 31 partners and directors. Today the firm provides a comprehensive range of advisory and financial services. We work with many not for profits, specialising in strategic planning, business transformation and financial management, mergers & acquisitions, risk analysis including governance and cyber.

The Sydney firm is a member of the HLB Mann Judd Australasian Association. HLB Mann Judd has offices in most of the major business centres in Australia, New Zealand and Fiji. HLB Mann Judd is a member of HLB International, the global advisory and accounting network.


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