Survey of US Nonprofits: The Pandemic and an Increased Focus on Racial Equity Are Changing the Sector

June 8, 2022

Community Leaders Detail Increased Demand, How They’re Adapting, and What They Need Now in NFF’s 2022 State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey

New York, NY — June 8, 2022 — The results of the 2022 State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey, released today, offer new insights into the well-being of a sector buffeted by the COVID-19 pandemic, deeply impacted by racial injustice, and central to advancing the aspirations of our communities. The survey of 1,168 nonprofits was conducted earlier this year by Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF) in partnership with Ambit 360 Consulting and EVITARUS. Here is what we learned about the impact of COVID-19 and how the experiences of nonprofits led by people of color compared with those of white-led organizations.   

  • As a result of the pandemic, 88% of respondents developed new or different ways of working that led to positive outcomes; 51% of those think these could be permanent changes. 

“As the pandemic took hold, nonprofit leaders pivoted to respond to changing needs – providing home deliveries instead of communal meals, training administrators to provide direct client care, opening childcare for frontline workers, and more,” said Jen Talansky, vice president of marketing and communications at NFF. “Nonprofits led by people of color saw the sharpest increase in demand, and the survey spotlights the need for more equitable access to resources as communities continue to rely on neighborhood nonprofits.”

  • Demand is rising: 71% of respondents reported that demand rose during the last two years; 86% expect it to continue to rise in 2022, but just 53% think they will be able to meet that demand.

While most nonprofits saw an increase in demand for services over the past two years, nonprofits led by Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) saw the most marked increase, with 64% reporting a significant (10%+) increase in demand, compared to 47% of white-led organizations. Adapting to demand has had a direct impact on nonprofit employees. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, 57% of BIPOC-led organizations and 45% of white-led organizations report that employees have carried out duties outside of their job description all or most of the time.

“Because of systemic racism, funders need to take purposeful action to advance equity and invest in BIPOC-led nonprofits,” said Shakari Byerly, Partner and Principal Researcher at EVITARUS. “We ask a lot from nonprofits, and too often, workers carry the burden when governments and foundations don’t pay organizations fairly for the essential services they provide.”

  • 70% of respondents overall saw their funding rise during the pandemic from 2019 levels; 71% of all respondents received one or more Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans.

BIPOC-led orgs were less likely to receive federal funding in 2021 – excluding PPP, 32% of BIPOC-led orgs received federal funding compared with 46% of white-led orgs. BIPOC-led orgs were also less likely to receive corporate donations (58% of BIPOC-led orgs vs 71% for white-led orgs) or to have revenue from investment income (16% of BIPOC-led vs 33% for white-led orgs).

"Our organization and the people in our communities benefited greatly from COVID-related support and funding," said Claudia Ramirez, Executive Director of The Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Contra Costa County. "Now, emergency funding has decreased significantly, while we are seeing increased demand for critical services like housing assistance, food, and medical and dental care."

  • Flexible funds help: 57% of nonprofits report that since March 2020, foundation funders have been more flexible with how they use funds. 

“It is unclear if the improvements in financial health reported at this moment represent a short-term exception due to PPP loans and other emergency funding, or an inflection point for a sector plagued by systemic funding hurdles and persistent inequities,” said Larry McGill, Founder and Principal of Ambit 360 consulting. “Having seen trust-based funding work during the pandemic, it’s clear that part of the answer is not just increased funding but also loosening funding restrictions so nonprofits can decide for themselves how to spend money in their own communities.”

  • Lived experience matters: 57% of BIPOC organizational leaders have lived experience that is representative of the communities their organization serves, as compared to 18% of white leaders.

“The survey findings are another clear demonstration of why NFF is doubling down on our commitment to community-centered, BIPOC-led organizations,” said Trella Walker, NFF’s Interim CEO and President. “It is not enough to sit with declarations of change, it is time to follow the lead of communities of color and support the changes they need.”

Since 2010, Bank of America has supported NFF’s State of the Nonprofit Sector surveys.

“Nonprofit organizations continue to be on the frontlines in helping our communities get back on their feet,” said Andrew Plepler, global head of Environmental, Social & Governance (ESG) at Bank of America. “The results in the 2022 survey speak to how they’ve had to recalibrate their efforts and the vital role that public, private, nonprofit partnerships must play if we want to see long-term, sustainable improvement.” 

In the coming months, NFF will offer additional analyses of survey data, including in late July a comparison between the 311 nonprofits who completed NFF’s State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey both in 2018 and 2022 to more fully examine the impact of COVID-19 on organizational health.

Visit for full results and survey methodology.

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