America’s Nonprofits in Danger

Survey of 950+ Nonprofit Professionals Finds Half Expect the Recession to Have Long-Term or Permanent Negative Effect on their Organizations

America’s nonprofits, including the “lifeline” organizations that many depend on for food, shelter, and other basic services, are strained to the breaking point – this according to a survey being released today by the Nonprofit Finance Fund. The survey of 986 nonprofit leaders in markets nationwide captures the financial state and particular challenges facing these organizations.

Key findings include:

  • Only 12% expect to operate above break-even this year.
  • Just 16% anticipate being able to cover their operating expenses in both 2009 and 2010.
  • 31% don’t have enough operating cash in hand to cover more that one month of expenses, and another 31% have less than three months’ worth.
  • 52% of respondents expect the recession to have a long-term (2+ years) or permanent negative financial effect on their organizations.
  • 93% of lifeline organizations that provide essential services anticipate an increase in demand in 2009.

“The survey reveals the precarious state of a sector that is continually asked to do more with less, and brings a long-standing problem into sharp relief,” said Clara Miller, President and CEO of Nonprofit Finance Fund. “Lifeline organizations, 91% of which focus on serving vulnerable populations, simply will not be around to provide critical services if we continue with current practices. We must free the entire sector from the archaic assumptions and harmful constraints that keep many organizations perpetually on the brink of survival, and especially at risk in times of recession.”

Both the Summary and the Full Survey Results are available.

eJP note: Even though the survey results are just being released today, as far as we can tell, the core issues discussed were not on the radar screen at the recently concluded JFN Conference. From various news releases coming out of the UJC/Federation system, it is obvious these issues are impacting the Jewish world. Some communities appear to have the resources available to lessen the danger. But what of the others?