Many Nonprofits Under Severe Stress, Study Finds

A new survey of nonprofit organizations finds that 40 percent are facing “severe” or “very severe” stress from a variety of sources, including declining revenues, rising costs, shrinking endowments, and trickling cash flow from creditors and government sources. 

PNN Online reported June 30 that the Johns Hopkins University survey of 363 nonprofits also found, however, that more than two-thirds of the groups said they have been “successful” or “very successful” in dealing with these stresses.

“Our nation's nonprofit organizations are displaying exceptional resilience in the face of enormous fiscal challenges,” said Lester M. Salamon, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies. “Nearly three-fourths of the organizations reported being able to maintain or actually increase the number of people they serve, and this was especially true of service to vulnerable populations.”

In the face of the economic crisis, many nonprofits reported launching new fundraising efforts, cost-cutting measures, and marketing and advocacy campaigns. A majority, however, expect to see their revenues decline even further in the coming months. Individual contributions appeared to take the biggest hit, but nonprofits also reported significant declines in corporate giving and foundation support.

“The news is mixed, at best,” said Peter Goldberg, president and CEO of the Alliance for Children and Families. “Resilience in the face of crunching challenges inspires pride in the sector, but also a deep concern about future capacities of nonprofit organizations to fulfill their missions.”

The report, “Impact of the 2007-09 Economic Recession on Nonprofit Organizations,” is available in PDF format.

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