Hoverboards. Flying cars powered by small fusion reactors. A half-dozen fax machines in every home. This is the 2015 we were promised in Back to the Future Part II, and we’re sorry to say it’s mostly not coming true.

Our own prognostication track record looks pretty good by comparison. Last year we correctly foretold the rising power of the Pope, the spread of marriage equality into all corners of America, the bumpy rise and fall of the new news sites (Vox / First Look Media / FiveThirtyEight), and the DNC-ification of simple + bold email styles.

(We also optimistically said Facebook would have a Google Grants style program for nonprofits by now — too bad they missed the memo.)

Here are 10 predictions to keep you in the know and on trend in 2015:

Tip: Click on the linked portions of the post to easily tweet them!


Cosa Bullock

I’m really excited to see more long-form storytelling done on behalf of advocacy issues on Instagram. There are already a handful of great users out there posting short stories to go with their snaps that give the follower a sense of the bigger picture — like Everyday Africa and What Italy Is — but I’d really love to see more organizations pick an issue to showcase and chronicle it visually over a series of weeks and months. Some I’m already loving: @thewcs, @nasa, @doctorswithoutborders, @montereybayaquarium, and @humanrightswatch


As digital continues to grow in importance for nonprofits, more directors of online teams will start reporting directly to executive directors in 2015, along with their new peers in development, marketing and communications. Digital fundraising in Canada, Australia and the UK will grow substantially and begin to close the gap with digital fundraising in the USA.


Steve Daigneault


Bill Wasserman

Hillary Clinton will announce her candidacy for President in January. The Washington Wizards will reach the NBA finals in May.

An unofficial study of my own email inbox shows I received a fundraising message from an official arm of the Democratic party roughly once every nine minutes during the month of October. Those of us who do email fundraising are going to have to come to grips with the flood of appeals we saw from OFA, DNC, DCCC, DSCC, etc., OMG, before this last election.

Undoubtedly, as the next election cycle gets going some organizations will simply join the arms race — cranking up their own email volume to avoid getting drowned out. It may work for some, especially in the short term, but it also carries a big risk of alienating supporters who will reach a breaking point long before we reach our fundraising goals. Groups that are really smart will spend 2015 preparing for the 2016 deluge by refocusing their efforts to turn one-time donors into monthly sustainers — you don’t have to compete in a crowded inbox if you’re already scooping up a recurring gift.


Will Valverde
Providence, Rhode Island


Lori Fresina
New England

In 2015, the last remaining digital age holdouts will give in, joining Facebook and Twitter, buying iToys, tablets, Neat Receipts and other tools… and using them! This includes lawmakers, lobbyists, and old-school organizers. And, of course, they will act like they invented these things and put a big demand on their favorite nonprofits to feed their new zeal for all things digital.

Be on the lookout for easier to use mobile applications for capturing personal stories, sending updates on grassroots contacts with lawmakers, managing CRMs, and getting the quick and dirty intel on decision-makers right before an unexpected meeting. And don’t be surprised if the text size seems a little bigger than usual to accommodate the 45+ crowd!

In 2015, social media will really compete with email as the tool of choice for advocacy nonprofits driving real-world action. Advocacy directors will realize that, for a lot of the campaigns they’re running, social media can help turn the “ladder of engagement” into an elevator — getting new advocacy recruits directly into offline organizing without “warming them up” with low-bar gateway actions.


Marc Ruben


Michael O’Loughlin

One year ago, NYC Mayor de Blasio boldly adopted the “Vision Zero” initiative to eliminate traffic-related deaths and critical injuries as a policy priority, and in 2014 New Yorkers suffered only 131 pedestrian fatalities — the fewest since 1910 when records were first kept. In the year ahead, activists and officials across the country will make the Vision Zero goal and strategies their own.

Paid sick leave, family friendly workplace initiatives, and pay discrimination will be key agenda items at both state and federal levels. Podcasts will see a big rise in subscribers and listeners. People will re-embrace flip phones. The Washington Nationals will win the World Series.


Rachel Zukrow


CB Pearson
Missoula, Montana

The new energy economy will emerge as the top issue of the year. While some politicians are holding on to the past, a new economic model will become stronger and stronger. The food movement will also expand its reach and there will be more growth in 2015 than in 2014.

Nonprofits will start dipping their toes into the ‘Native Advertising’ media waters that big corporations like Netflix, Shell, and United Airlines began swimming in last year with surprisingly great results. (The NYT admitted in 2014 that some of their pay-for-play stories are performing even better among readers than pure articles.) Nonprofit press officers can still sleep well at night — earned media will still be a powerful tactic for advocacy and nonprofit branding campaigns. But the public’s appetite for promoted articles is a very tempting option for overlooked (and well-funded) issues that aren’t breaking through into the news cycle.


Aaron Eske
San Francisco


Doctor Emmett Brown

Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.