Data for Change
NFF’s 2022 State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey collected data, stories, and advice from over 1,100 nonprofit leaders across the nation about the impact of the past two years, from the pandemic to events that activated calls for racial justice.
- 88% of nonprofits changed the way they work, 51% think changes are permanent
When times got tough, government, philanthropy, and community members turned to nonprofits; 71% of survey respondents saw an increase in service demand during the pandemic. Nonprofits organized food drives and distributed other necessities for people in their communities who were sick or at risk, or who had lost jobs due to the pandemic. Many government, foundation, and individual supporters recognized that nonprofits were on the frontlines for our physical and mental well-being, and quickly made flexible or unrestricted funding available to support these essential community services.
Imagine our wonder to be able to relay in this moment that nonprofit survey respondents report being in a stronger financial position than they were pre-pandemic. At the same time, the majority of our survey respondents reported that they continue to face financial challenges: achieving long-term financial sustainability, covering the full costs of their operations, and raising unrestricted funding foremost among them. While we should celebrate nonprofits’ relative strength in the present, we must also take action to ensure these gains are preserved well into the future.
COVID-19 upended the traditional funding practices in the sector, and the changes were both welcome and needed. We hope the sector will learn from and build on this moment, rather than reverting to the practices of a broken funding/financing system to support nonprofits. But we wonder: Can nonprofits expect this level of flexible or unrestricted funding to continue?
Events of the last two years also accelerated a racial reckoning in this country. The murders of innocent Black Americans like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor sparked widespread calls for racial justice. The anti-Asian attacks in places like Atlanta and San Francisco ignited the Stop Asian Hate movement. As with the COVID-19 response, nonprofits were on the frontlines of these movements for racial justice and equity. We asked survey respondents: Is your organization working toward advancing racial equity? We also asked questions to understand: Is the sector more broadly moving forward on racial equity? Did these racial reckonings translate to more equitable funding for BIPOC-led organizations?
In a sector with such a large power imbalance between who controls the money and who uses it, there are always financial challenges and inequities. We gathered data to compare the experiences of BIPOC-led (Black, Indigenous, and person of color) organizations with those of white-led organizations. Despite the many commitments to racial equity and to diversity, equity and inclusion, long-standing inequities persist in the nonprofit funding system that favor white-led organizations. For example, BIPOC-led organizations had less access to unrestricted funding and corporate donations than their white-led counterparts.
We also can’t help but wonder about “survivorship bias”: What about the organizations that closed their doors during the COVID-19 pandemic? Who were they? Were financially strong nonprofits more likely to take our survey? While these questions remain, we are pleased to be able to share the survey responses of 1000+ strong, dedicated, and resilient nonprofits across the country.
NFF also took a deeper look at the experiences of the Los Angeles community to understand our work in this dynamic community – especially for BIPOC-led (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) and serving nonprofits.
Watch a series of three videos with more highlights about what we learned from the 2022 State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey.
Webinar Discussion Series
In this three-part webinar series, NFF staff take a deeper dive into the national results of the Survey.
- Part 1: High-level findings (click here for slides), including a current financial picture of US nonprofits and an overview of how nonprofit leaders responded to COVID-19 and promoted racial equity (recorded June 9, 2022)
- Part 2: Experiences of BIPOC-led organizations (click here for slides), taking a closer look at racial equity in the sector, including the experiences of BIPOC-led versus white-led organizations (recorded June 22, 2022)
- Part 3: What funders can do (click here for slides), including how nonprofit leaders can advocate for what they need from funders (recorded September 22, 2022)
- Part 4: What funders should know (click here for slides), with insights from Shaady Salehi, Executive Director of Trust-Based Philanthropy Project (recorded September 28, 2022)
About the Survey
Who took the 2022 NFF State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey? Demographics of survey respondents, including geography, sector, budget size, communities served, and racial identity of leadership.
- 1,168 respondents from 47 states plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
- Leaders from a diverse array of service areas, with human services (including housing, youth services, and other) representing the highest percentage (39%), followed by arts and culture (12%) and community/economic development (11%).
- Organizations of all sizes participated: 12% had annual expenses less than $100,000 in the 2021 fiscal year, while 7% were at $20,000,000 or more.
- 69% primarily or exclusively serve people with lower incomes.
- 33% of responding organizations are BIPOC-led, which, for the purposes of this survey, we define as having an Executive Director or CEO who is Black, Indigenous, or other person of color.
Looking in greater detail at the racial/ethnic identity of nonprofit leaders, respondents came from organizations with the following leadership (note, respondents could select more than one identity, so the total slightly exceeds 100%):
- American Indian or Alaska Native: 1%
- Middle Eastern or North African (MENA): 1%
- Other or Unsure: 3%
- Multi-Racial/Multi-Ethnic: 4%
- Asian or Asian American, Native Hawaiian and/or Pacific Islander: 8%
- Hispanic or Latinx: 11%
- Black or African American: 14%
- Non-Hispanic White: 63%
- 74 of the organizations in our survey sample were founded in the last five years; of those, 77% are BIPOC-led.
- 83% of BIPOC-led organizations primarily or exclusively serve people with lower incomes, as compared to 62% of white-led organizations.
Important definitions for comparisons between BIPOC-led and white-led organizations and sizes of organizations.
In the ensuing results, we frequently point out the disparity between BIPOC- and white-led organizations; however, we also recognize that “BIPOC” (Black, Indigenous, or person of color) as a category merges and could potentially obscure the different experiences of specific racial/ethnic groups. So, we occasionally highlight the specific responses of Latinx/Hispanic-led, Black-led, and AAPI-led (Asian American/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander) nonprofits, where there are notable differences in the data amongst these groups.
Additionally, for purposes of our analysis:
- A Black leader is a CEO/ED who identifies as Black or African American.
- A Latinx leader is a CEO/ED who identifies as Hispanic or Latinx.
- An AAPI leader is a CEO/ED who identifies as Asian or Asian American, Native Hawaiian and/or Pacific Islander.
- A multi-racial leader is a CEO/ED who identifies as Multi-Racial/Multi-Ethnic.
- A white leader is a CEO/ED who identifies as Non-Hispanic White.
We also defined the size of organizations using the following budget ranges:
- $0 to $499,999: Smaller-sized organization
- $500,000 to $4,999,999: Mid-sized organization
- $5,000,000 or more: Larger-sized organization
What’s new in the 2022 survey?
Conducted in partnership with EVITARUS and Ambit 360, we canvassed nonprofit leaders of color to get input on the issues they’d like to see addressed in the Survey. Incorporating their feedback, we asked a series of questions to provide data you can use to spearhead change for your organization.
2022 Survey expanded to:
- Capture a “before and since COVID-19" financial snapshot of nonprofits.
- Measure racial equity in nonprofit finance by comparing the experiences of organizations led by people of color to the experiences of white-led organizations. Here at NFF, we envision a world where funding and financial capital is accessible to all dynamic nonprofit leaders and the communities they serve. You may view the Statement of Purpose and five guiding principles that will inform our goals as well as specific objectives we’d like to accomplish for our research design here.
- Take a closer look at the experiences of Los Angeles area nonprofits.
We are grateful to respondents for all of the important work they do every day, and for taking our survey and entrusting us with their stories.
Check out our three-part video series diving into the key themes and highlights from 2022 survey data.
Email [email protected] for questions, historical data, and deeper analysis options (charges may apply).
NFF thanks the Bank of America Charitable Foundation for generously supporting the 2022 State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey, and for its ongoing support of the Survey since 2010. The 2022 survey was conducted in partnership with EVITARUS and Ambit 360.