By Barbara Krasne, Managing Director and Co-Founder, KrasnePlows
Nonprofit Finance Fund released its annual State of the Sector Survey results this week. For the seventh consecutive year nonprofit leaders nationwide responded that demand for their programs and services increased. 5,400 nonprofits representing all sectors confirmed that programs and services continue to outstrip supply, and their organizations remain under-resourced.
76% of respondents reported an increase in demand for their services. Over half couldn’t meet demand; and for those who reported unmet need, almost three quarters said that their clients’ needs would not be met elsewhere.
Almost a third of respondents identified long-term sustainability as one of the biggest challenges they face; and one in four named the ability to offer competitive compensation and/or retain staff as a top challenge. 35% of those responding reported two months or less of cash on hand to cover expenses; and one in eight acknowledged that they ended the year with an unplanned deficit.
Actions already taken
In spite of such challenges and indeed in many cases in response, nonprofits did take action. 56% of nonprofits added or expanded programs/services in 2014, the highest rate since the survey’s inception. Over half of respondents reported that they collaborated with another organization to improve and/or increase the programs or services offered, and more indicated that they expected to collaborate around programming in 2015. 44% hired staff for new positions last year.
Planning for future and investing in staff
When asked about actions planned for coming year, respondents identified planning as a high priority. 41% expect to conduct long-term strategic or financial planning, up from 29% in 2014. One in three anticipate leadership succession planning, almost double the effort last year. 41% plan to invest time and/or money in staff professional development, up from the 37% reported for last year.
The nonprofit sector remains fragile. it is more important than ever to consider how a nonprofit can achieve and sustain excellence, and recognize that what may have worked in the past may not provide the playbook for the future. Nonetheless good management practices remain critical.