That question became the springboard for my colleague Karen Eber Davis and I to explore in a recent national study we developed and executed.
In the June 2020 survey, 124 nonprofit leaders from across the U.S., representing organizations of all sizes and subsectors, shared their revenue stories and visions ahead in light of the pandemic and other upheavals.
Not surprisingly, the majority of participants (74 percent) anticipate decreases by the end of 2020, compared with 2019. An earlier survey by LaPiana Consulting reported similar findings. Declining earned revenue related to programs was of most significant concern for 41 percent of our respondents, followed by individual donations, including bequests (20 percent). These results are similar to other earlier surveys by the Nonprofit Finance Fund and the Independent Sector.
All was not bleak. Some 24 percent of participants reported expecting their revenue to remain the same or increase by year’s end. One respondent actually anticipates an increase in revenue of 50 percent or more by the end of 2020.
Interestingly, the revenue stream that gave them most hope was income from individual contributions, 33 percent, the very same source that greatly concerned other leaders.
Institutional and corporate foundation grants and gifts, 27 percent, is the second highest source of optimism among nonprofit leaders.
Nonprofit Leadership Mindset
Our analysis moved beyond just data to uncover leadership mindsets. Here participants fell loosely into three categories in terms of processing the enormity of the changes facing us all.
Commentary from one segment of participants reflected hopelessness or a sense of defeatism. A second group reported just the facts, while a third are actively and creatively searching for solutions. This third group can serve as the avatar for all leaders in the sector—resilient, optimistic, adaptable, and even entrepreneurial. Some individuals see the fruits of their strategies paying off. They are deepening their relationships and expanding their visibility. Many are trying new ways—especially through digital experimentation—to reach their audiences, fulfill their missions, and generate revenue in the process.
To learn more and read respondents’ thoughts first hand, download the full report for free (What’s Really Happening with Nonprofit Revenue? Here are the Real Answers).
The report includes:
- Summer 2020 observations from nonprofit CEO across United States,
- Insights from nonprofit fundraising and revenue experts Karen Eber Davis and myself,
- Recommendations on how nonprofit leaders can get their organization on a resilient path
- Resources for your nonprofit team.
- Timely guidance for nonprofits on how to become resilient during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We share the findings, our insights, and recommendations for individual nonprofits and those who serve them. You will also find a link in the report to a webinar with even more information plus additional resources.