New Nonprofit Sector Survey:
US Nonprofits Are Challenged, Creative, Unwavering

Nonprofit leaders are expanding programs and hiring staff, according to the just released Nonprofit Finance Fund State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey.

The 2018 Survey raises the voices of almost 3,400 leaders of nonprofits across all 50 states and a wide range of sizes, missions, and work areas. Among its key findings:

Demand continues to rise faster than nonprofits’ ability to meet it.

  • 86 percent of respondents say demand for their services is rising
  • Nonprofits’ top challenges continue to be achieving financial sustainability (62 percent), raising funding to cover full costs (57 percent) and unrestricted revenue (46 percent), and offering competitive pay (66 percent)
  • 59 percent also cite employing enough hands to do all the work

Nonprofits are moving forward with determination and creativity.

  • 54 percent increased staff and 55 percent increased compensation in 2017
  • 63 percent plan to expand their programs or services
  • 68 percent are collaborating with other nonprofits; 60 percent plan to increase the diversity of their leadership and/or staff; 45 percent will develop a succession plan; 38 percent will invest in impact measurement software; 37 percent will engage more formally in advocacy/policy
  • 76 percent managed to achieve break-even results or better in 2017

Nonprofit leaders voice intense worry on behalf of the people they serve.

  • 40 percent cite affordable housing as a top client need
  • Next most-cited top critical needs were youth programs (24 percent), mental and behavioral health services (22 percent), financial capability (21 percent)
  • 67 percent say the federal government has made life harder for their clients

Results from the 2018 State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey reflect responses by 3,369 nonprofit leaders whose organizations work in 20-plus focus areas and all 50 states, and range in size from $50,000 to more than $20 million. Data were collected online in January and February. The Survey, NFF’s eighth, again asked about organizations’ basic financial and operational health; this year, new questions also aimed to capture quantitative and qualitative data about real-time developments and concerns. For example, in a year when events tore open the country’s racial divides, NFF asked about nonprofits’ leadership diversity and their focus on racial inequity.

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