Community Foundation Releases 2019 Nonprofit Survey Summary

Feb. 12, 2020 NP Survey

The Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines strives to be a trusted partner for the local nonprofit sector. By conducting a bi-annual survey of local nonprofit leaders, the Community Foundation seeks to assess perceptions of our grantmaking work and ensure intentional strategies are in place to deepen and nurture relationships with nonprofit organizations and community partners, thereby solidifying our role as a key community resource. Click here to review the full Executive Summary of the survey results. 

Survey questions further examine the efficacy of our nonprofit communications, capacity building trainings, and more general capacity building needs and opportunities for local nonprofits to achieve organizational stability. Analyzing responses allows the Community Foundation to maintain knowledge of successful and emerging trends in the nonprofit field to inform our roles as a resource, connector and leader for the sector.

Over 193 survey responses were collected representing the arts & culture, community betterment, education, employment/workforce development, environment, health/mental health, housing and human service fields of interest. Approximately 30% of respondents’ organizations report an operating budget of less than $250,000, 22% between $250,000 and $1 Million, and 45% between $1-5 Million. Responses were gathered through an open community survey and as such the data shared does not presume to be scientifically valid.

Barriers to implementing mission
Nonprofits were asked to share the challenges faced by their organizations. Recruiting new donors was identified as a major challenge for over 62% of respondents (remaining steady from 2017 compared to 71% in 2012). Fifty-seven percent of respondents indicate obtaining funding/fundraising as a major challenge (compared to 55% in 2017). Enhancing visibility and marketing was also seen as a major challenge for 59% of respondents. Recruitment and retention of board members – especially diverse board members – was among the top challenges (44%) and covering employee benefits and insurance costs was considered a major challenge by 37% of respondents – an increase from 24% who indicated this as a challenge in 2017.

Demand for services continues to be high
The demand for services remains high with over 73% of respondents reporting an increased demand for the services of their organization (compared to 75% in 2017).

Nonprofits feel vulnerable and financial stability continues to be a center of focus
Thirty-three percent of organizations report they are healthy and not financially vulnerable – on par with the 2017 survey. Over 47% percent responded they are healthy to date but feel vulnerable in the future. Nineteen percent reported they are experiencing chronic financial problems but expect to survive.

Fundraising efforts
When nonprofits were asked about changes to funding by source, 45% of nonprofit organizations shared an increase in individual donations during fiscal year 2018. Fifteen percent reported a decrease in the same source. Thirty-three percent indicated a funding increase from special events (17% decreased). In addition, 27% noted an increase from corporate giving (20% indicated a decrease) and 19% indicated an increase from foundation grants (15% decrease).

Strategic partnerships, collaboration and mergers
Of the 37% of nonprofits that indicated maintaining operations is a challenge, a sub-set of 25% answered that their organization has considered a merger or new collaboration and are already or will be pursuing this course of action. Twenty-seven percent of that sub-set are considering restructuring or sharing services and 45% indicated their organization is engaging in strategic planning to consider their options.

The nonprofit sector looks to the future
As nonprofits look to the next three years, 64% of respondents indicate they will expand services in key areas in the next three years (consistent with 2017 responses). Twenty-one percent stated that their services will remain unchanged. However, some nonprofits acknowledge they will need to make some tough decisions in the next three years. Eight percent (10 respondents) said they will re-examine existing structure and will likely emerge as a different organization. Another 3% indicated key programs would be reduced – a new question.

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. [The Community Foundation’s Capacity Building grant program helps fund strategic work for governance or management.] Nonprofit organizations were asked if they had an up-to-date strategic plan. Sixty-seven percent reported they had a current, up-to-date strategic plan in place, bur far fewer organizations (only 31%) indicated they have a current succession plan or HR talent/development plan.