Bringing the Nonprofit Perspective off the Sidelines: New Data from Nonprofit Leaders

Kate Gehling

The nonprofit perspective matters in any discussion about the philanthropic sector. After all, nonprofit organizations are on the front lines, executing the hard work needed to address important challenges facing communities across the country and globally. Unfortunately, the nonprofit perspective is sometimes sidelined — or omitted altogether — from philanthropic conversations.

In CEP’s new report, titled The Funding Landscape: Nonprofit Perspectives on Current Issues in Philanthropy, which was released today, we highlight the nonprofit perspective on a number of hot-button issues being discussed widely in philanthropy today. (Note: CEP also shared the data discussed in this report with The Chronicle of Philanthropy, which has published several articles mentioning our findings.)

Information in the report is based upon a survey of nonprofit leaders, fielded in November 2019, about a variety of timely issues in the sector, including the impact of recent tax code changes, anticipated changes in nonprofit revenue, nonprofit concerns about a recession, current debates about donor-advised funds (DAFs), and the prevalence and use of gift acceptance policies. We sent the survey to CEP’s Grantee Voice panel of CEOs from nonprofit, grant-seeking organizations that receive at least one grant from foundations giving $5 million or more annually. Of the 1,225 CEOs on the panel, 419 responded to the survey, for a response rate of 34 percent.

Some of what we learned from nonprofit leaders through the survey includes the following:

  • The majority of nonprofit leaders believe that the tax code changes have decreased individual giving to their organizations.
  • Nonprofit leaders are concerned about the impact that a recession would have on their organization and wish that foundation funders would talk to them about how a recession would change their support.
  • Varied opinions exist among nonprofit leaders about DAFs, but more leaders mention cons of DAFs than pros.
  • About half of nonprofits have a gift acceptance policy; nonprofits most frequently decline gifts because they have too many strings attached.

The report expands upon and provides further data on these key issues.

While nonprofit leaders’ perspectives on these topics are of course diverse and varied, we hope that the data in this report can form the basis of discussions in philanthropy that are more greatly informed by the nonprofit experience.

Download The Funding Landscape: Nonprofit Perspectives on Current Issues in Philanthropy here.

For more detailed data about nonprofit perspectives on donor-advised funds, see CEP Associate Manager, Research, Hannah Martin’s recent blog post here.

For more data and insights from CEP about how to most effectively support nonprofits, browse CEP’s library of resources available for free download here.

Kate Gehling is an analyst on the research team at CEP.

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