Community Foundation releases 2012 Nonprofit Economic Impact Survey: Individual and corporate donations rise; majority of nonprofits are financially healthy; funding continues to be a challenge

Mar. 7, 2012 null

What impact is the economy having on charitable giving and nonprofit sustainability here in Central Iowa? The Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines asked more than 70 nonprofit leaders representing the arts, health, human services, housing, community betterment, education and environmental causes about the financial health, challenges, trends and the future of our nonprofit sector.  Data was compared to surveys taken in 2009 and 2010.


"Our nonprofit community is navigating through the economic challenges put in front of them and continues to improve quality of life by providing the services our community must have to thrive.  Working more efficiently and effectively is the theme for success moving forward," says President and Chief Operating Officer of the Community Foundation Kristi Knous.  



Demand for services continues to be high.
The demand for services has remained constant with nearly eighty percent of the participating organizations reporting an increased demand for the services of their organization.

Fundraising efforts show signs of improvement.
Fifty percent of nonprofit organizations shared an increase in individual donations in 2012, compared to thirty-three percent in 2010 and thirty-eight percent in 2009.  Forty-four percent of nonprofit organizations reported an increase in corporate donations in 2012 compared to twenty-six percent in 2010 and thirty percent in 2009.


Nonprofits continue to face funding challenges.
Nonprofits were asked to share the challenges faced by their organizations.  Obtaining funding was identified as a major challenge for over seventy-four percent of the respondents.  Seventy-one percent of nonprofits indicate recruiting new donors is a major challenge.  Twenty-four percent of respondents reported that retaining existing donors is a major challenge.  These survey results are virtually unchanged from the 2009 and 2010 surveys.

Nonprofits feel vulnerable, but the majority are financially healthy.
Twenty-one percent of organizations report they are healthy and not vulnerable, and fifty-six percent stated they are healthy to date but feel vulnerable in the future.  Ten percent reported they are experiencing chronic financial problems but expect to survive, which is an eleven percent decrease from the 2010 survey.

Capital campaigns were affected by the economy.
Twenty-two percent of organizations are currently undertaking a capital campaign which is up from seventeen percent in 2010.  Six percent identified they have postponed plans to launch a capital campaign compared to twelve percent in 2010.  Several organizations indicated they have changed their capital campaign strategy as a result of the current economic conditions.  

Nonprofits adjust organizational activities in this challenging economic climate.
Nonprofits were asked about any organizational changes they made in response to economic challenges. It appears organizations' operations are stable enough to begin expanding staff. Fifty percent of respondents reported they were able to hire new staff compared to thirty-one percent in 2010.

Strategic planning is being used to strengthen organizational capacity.
As nonprofit organizations look to build capacity, a strong strategic plan can assist in directing organizations to resources and efficiencies. Nonprofit organizations were asked if they had an up-to-date strategic plan. Sixty percent reported they had a current strategic plan in place.  Of those with a strategic plan, thirty-eight percent shared that they revisited the plan in light of the economic changes their organizations were experiencing.

"We are sharing the key findings of this survey to spark meaningful conversation as part of our community leadership work.  We are committed to strengthening the capacity of the nonprofit sector by providing technical assistance and training for nonprofit board and staff members.   One of our leading goals is to make our community aware of needs and then help make connections between those needs and people who care about them," says Allison Fleming, Community Foundation Board Chair. "We hope these conversations will inspire thoughtful charitable giving that supports and strengthens the nonprofit sector, allowing it to respond to our community's needs."

Download the full Nonprofit Economic Impact Survey report.


The Community Foundation offers the Giving Guide as a community resource which provides tools for researching local charities and connecting donor interests with community needs and giving opportunities.