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Why Take the 2014 'State of the Nonprofit Sector' Survey?

February 04, 2014

(Tessa Borell is an associate in the Knowledge and Communications department at the Nonprofit Finance Fund. A version of the following also appears on the NFF site.)

Nff_logoIn the two weeks since we opened our 6th Annual State of the Sector Survey, we have been captivated by the challenges and triumphs that nonprofit leaders and organizations are responding to as they work to serve their communities.

One of them, a workforce development organization, is experimenting with new fundraising methods:

"We initiated development campaigns targeted to specific audiences to support specific pieces of our work and also initiated 'friendraisers' at board members' homes where we can talk about what we do and how we need their support."

Another, a human services organization, is struggling to serve a new demographic:

"We are having to adapt programs to meet the needs of a younger generation of veterans and one that includes significantly more women."

These and other stories like them draw attention to a number of broader themes -- and mean even more in the context of thousands of data points which show organizations pivoting away from (or toward) government funding sources, engaging thoughtfully with individual donors or foundations, moving to earned-revenue business models for the first time, or even considering mergers and collaborations.

By identifying the financial and management issues nonprofit leaders are facing and then quantifying their shared experiences, my colleagues and I are amassing an impressive dataset that puts these and other stories in the context of the needs of the nonprofit sector. And we are leveraging this dataset to advocate for change.

Consider the following examples of how findings from previous years' surveys have been used:

Last year, NFF connected thousands of organizations across the nation and shared our findings with foundations, government agencies, media outlets, trade associations, advocacy organizations, and nonprofits. That was great, but this year we want to ensure that your organization's story is represented. As a certain fictional sports agent might have said: "Help us, help you."

The survey will be up though February 17, so there's plenty of time not only to take it but to spread the word among your networks and colleagues. Our Outreach Kit offers several quick cut-and-paste ways to help. And, of course, to those of you who have already responded, thank you for helping the Nonprofit Finance Fund develop the kind of "accessible insights" that enable nonprofits to make the most effective use of their revenue streams in pursuit of their missions.

-- Tessa Borelli


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