56% of America’s Nonprofits Can’t Meet Demand; Worst Shortfall in 6 Years
The economic recovery is leaving behind many nonprofits and communities in need:
- 80% of respondents reported an increase in demand for services, the 6th straight year of increased demand.
- 56% were unable to meet demand in 2013—the highest reported in the survey’s history.
- Only 11% expect 2014 to be easier than 2013 for the people they serve.
“Americans rely on nonprofits for food shelter, education, healthcare and other necessities, and everyone has a stake in strengthening this social infrastructure,” said Antony Bugg-Levine, CEO of Nonprofit Finance Fund. “The struggles nonprofits face are not the short-term result of an economic cycle, they are the results of fundamental flaws in the way we finance social good.”
For many nonprofits, the funding landscape is changing. Of respondents who receive government funding, nearly half have seen support decline over the past five years.
Nonprofits are working to bring in new money; in the next 12 months:
- 31% will change the main ways in which they raise and spend money.
- 26% will pursue an earned income venture.
- 20% will seek funding other than grants & contracts, such as loans or other investments.
“Today’s environment requires creative problem-solving and good communication with funders and partners,” said Robert Chávez, Chief Executive Officer of Urban Corps of San Diego County, which provides a high school education and green job training to young adults. “As a conservation corps, we have always relied on a fee-for-service program model to fund job training projects. Now, we are diversifying our services and exploring new income-generating partnerships in order to supplement at-risk funding, become fully self-sufficient, and ultimately better serve youth.”
41% of nonprofits named “achieving long-term financial stability” as a top challenge, yet:
- More than half of nonprofits (55%) have 3 months or less cash-on-hand.
- 28% ended their 2013 fiscal year with a deficit.
- Only 9% can have an open dialogue with funders about developing reserves for operating needs, and only 6% about developing reserves for long-term facility needs.
“The closer a system gets to failure, the harder it becomes to devote scarce resources toward building a better future,” said Bugg-Levine. “The nonprofit sector’s greatest asset is tenacious, creative, smart leaders who, despite significant challenges and with the right support, have the capacity to lead the United States into a new era of civic and social greatness.”
Nonprofits are taking wide-ranging steps to survive and succeed.
In the past 12 months:
- 49% collaborated with another organization to improve or increase services.
- 48% invested money or time in professional development.
- 40% upgraded hardware or software to improve organizational efficiency.
- 39% conducted long-term strategic or financial planning.
“Today, it’s clear that government funding and traditional philanthropy alone can’t cover the critical work of nonprofits addressing pressing challenges in our communities,” said Kerry Sullivan, president of the Bank of America Charitable Foundation. “Tools like the Nonprofit Finance Fund survey can help fuel discussion among nonprofits and the private sector about how new funding models and strategies can better support shared goals of stronger organizations and communities.”
For the first time, the annual survey delved into impact measurement, a core component of some emerging funding models such as pay-for-success:
- Respondents said that more than 70% of their funders requested impact or program metrics.
- 77% agreed that the metrics funders ask for are helpful in assessing impact.
- Only 1% reported that funders always cover the costs of impact measurement; 71% said costs were rarely or never covered.
“The NFF survey results illustrate the ongoing risks of a frayed social safety net dealing with increasing demand,” said Hilary Pennington, vice president of the Ford Foundation’s program for Education, Creativity and Free Expression. “If we continue to expect nonprofits and their dedicated staff to meet society’s most critical needs at the most crucial times– we need to recommit as a society to strengthen the necessary supports to do just that.”
Full survey results, along with an interactive survey analyzer and a look at trends over the past six years, are available at: www.nff.org/survey.