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State of Nonprofits 2024:
What Funders Need to Know

A Report of CEP's Nonprofit Voice Project

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Overview

In the four years since the COVID-19 pandemic began and movements for racial justice gained widespread public attention, nonprofits across the United States have demonstrated their pivotal role in meeting their communities’ needs and advocating for those they serve. Individual and institutional funders, too, have responded to calls for change. Given the vital role nonprofits play in communities across the U.S., we sought to understand how they are faring now and to shed new light on their experiences with funders.

Our research aims to:

Take the pulse of nonprofit leaders via CEP’s Nonprofit Voice Project, a nationally representative panel of U.S. nonprofits that receive foundation funding.

Examine change over time in nonprofit leaders’ perspectives and experiences.

Help funders, both individual and institutional, better understand the nonprofit experience so they can more effectively support the organizations they fund.

We surveyed:

0

nonprofit leaders

0

responded

representing a 52 percent response rate

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1

Finding 1

Ongoing Concern About Burnout

Burnout – for both nonprofit staff and leadership – remains a top concern for most nonprofit leaders, with half of nonprofit leaders feeling more concerned about their own burnout than this time last year.

95%

of leaders surveyed express some level of concern
about burnout.

Nonprofit Leaders’ Level of Concern About Staff Burnout (N=239)

About three quarters of surveyed leaders indicate that burnout among their staff is at least slightly impacting their organization’s ability to achieve its mission.

Extent to Which Staff Burnout Is Impacting Nonprofit Organizations’ Ability To Achieve Their Mission (N=237)

57%

of nonprofit leaders identify staff-related concerns as one of their organization's biggest challenges.

A third of nonprofit leaders surveyed say that they are “very much” concerned about their own burnout, and half report that they are more concerned about their burnout now than last year.

"I have been a nonprofit leader for 20 years and I’ve not experienced a reality like the one I am in currently. It seems everything changed after COVID. There are no trailblazers that have faced this path before us, to guide and advise, [for] wisdom. It is a wild world right now."

– Nonprofit Leader

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Finding 2

Consistent Finances at Most Nonprofits

As in 2023, most nonprofits experienced either a balanced budget or a surplus in the most recently completed fiscal year, and the majority anticipate breaking even or having a surplus this fiscal year.

Two thirds of nonprofit leaders report that their organization has the equivalent of at least six months’ operating expenses available for emergencies and opportunities in the form of reserves and other
funding sources.

44%

of leaders recorded a surplus in the last fiscal year, and about one quarter recorded a balanced budget.

Top Contributors to Last Year’s Financial Situation

45%

of leaders anticipate a balanced budget in the
current fiscal year
, and more than 20 percent
anticipate a surplus.

Top Contributors to This Year’s Financial Projections

For nonprofit leaders who either experienced a budget deficit in the last fiscal year or anticipate a deficit in the current fiscal year, fundraising is the most common method by which they are planning to address the deficit.

Nonprofit Leaders’ Plans for Addressing Recent or Projected Deficits (N=90)

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3

Finding 3

Funders Staying the Course

The majority of nonprofit leaders report that funders are maintaining or making new commitments to change their grantmaking practices, including reducing funding restrictions or streamlining processes.

81%

of nonprofit leaders report that their foundation funders continued or made new commitments in at least one area of their funding practices in the last year.

Percent of Nonprofit Leaders Reporting Funders Have Made New Commitments or Continued Existing Commitments (Ns=226-232)

Fewer than 20 percent of nonprofit leaders identify issues with funders as one of the biggest challenges their organization is facing. Of these leaders, most stress the importance of continued attention to practices that support nonprofits’ work.

"We desperately need general operating funds focused on sustainability and being able to build an infrastructure that will allow our organization to … invest in wellness for our staff, who have been working tirelessly to solve crisis after crisis since the pandemic."

– Nonprofit Leader

36%

of leaders note that their current foundation funders either have no commitments to advancing racial equity or have reduced or ended their commitments in
the last year.

Percent of Nonprofit Leaders Reporting Status of Funders’ Commitments to Advancing Racial Equity (N=224)

State of Nonprofits 2024:
What Funders Need to Know

A Nonprofit Voice Project Report

While most nonprofits responding to our survey report strong financial results, burnout remains top of mind for nonprofit leaders across the country, both for themselves and their staff. Simultaneously, the majority of nonprofit leaders are seeing new or continued efforts from their funders to change their grantmaking practices, including reduced restrictions and streamlined application and reporting processes. However, while some funders have sustained or committed to efforts advancing racial equity, more than a third don’t prioritize it.

We hope that this report, and future Nonprofit Voice Project research, will continue to inform individual and institutional donors of the challenges facing leaders of nonprofit organizations in the coming years.

If this report has been helpful to you, please consider supporting CEP’s research. Reach out to us for more information. Thank you.

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State of Nonprofits 2024: What Funders Need to Know