State of the Nonprofit Sector 2013: Survey Results

For the nonprofit data nerd in all of us, there are many productive ways to slice and dice the data from this year’s survey. The Nonprofit Finance Fund and Bank of America surveyed more than 6000 nonprofits and derived a few key learnings. One that stood out to me:

Under these challenging [financial] conditions, many nonprofits are unable to meet growing need in their communities: 

  • For the first time in the five years of the survey, more than half (52%) of respondents were unable to meet demand over the last year; 54% say they won’t be able to meet demand this year.
  • This represents a worrying trend; in 2009, 44% of nonprofits said they were unable to meet demand.
  • Jobs (59%) and housing (51%) continue to be top concerns for those in low-income communities.
  • 90% of respondents say financial conditions are as hard or harder than last year for their clients; this is actually a slight improvement from prior years’ outlook.

For me, the survey re-highlighted to (the cynic in) me how struggling nonprofits need to humble/smart enough to fold or merge. While I certainly don’t want to see their constituencies’ needs completely unaddressed, I do want to see more collaborative and stable approaches to tackling concerns like jobs and housing. Right now, segmentation is huge, creating a greater-than-necessary competition for resources, which means nobody can do their job and address needs quite as well.

Let’s discuss.

State of the Nonprofit Sector 2013: Survey Results

The Permanent Disruption of Social Media

Social media has chipped away at the foundation of traditional donor-engagement models. A new study highlights the realities of donor behavior and how organizations can redesign their outreach strategies to be more effective.

Fantastic article. Nonprofits and those involved with fundraising, please take the time to read and reflect on how you can reshape strategies for helping your cause.

An excerpt that I really like is the below graphic and accompanying explanation. Organizations on whole need to move towards a vortex model to maximize internal resources and outward impact, but they can’t forget the pyramid model, either.

The Permanent Disruption of Social Media

Political Fundraising (Spam)

Thanks to Gmail Meter, I feel validated in my firm belief that political fundraising is a bit ridiculous and overly bothersome. I learned in this month’s report that I received 71 emails from during the month of September, which stemmed from one small gift to the Obama campaign. I realize that as the race nears an end, the candidates are more in competition than ever, but I’m not sure what spamming people with emails really accomplishes. I’m sure that for some, they feel nagged enough to give, and maybe that nagging is fair. I feel torn, because as a fundraiser myself, I know that an entity can’t get money if they don’t ask; the campaign is doing a great job of asking. However, isn’t there a point of diminishing returns? Ask me 3, 4, 5 times, fine. But after it passes 10, 20, 50 asks, it seems like overkill. I can see where there’s little cost to the campaign to send these emails (supporters probably won’t change their vote over the spam) and great benefit (they can only stand to gain money), but it still feels unethical to spam voters. Is this just politics as usual, or has email fundraising taken elections to a whole new level?

[Update 11/28/2012: Interesting article on the ‘science’ of the email campaigning.]

Are You Supporting Health Horizons?

Many of you know my amazing friend Laura, who I met 8 years ago in a pre-orientation program at Tufts University. A doer-and-shaker, Laura co-founded a phenomenal nonprofit called Health Horizons International (HHI), which seeks to build a new vision of primary health care and community health in the Dominican Republic. I’ve seen the programs and followed the organization avidly since its inception. I have a lot of respect for their approach, results, and plan for the future.

Today is Laura’s birthday (happy happy Laura!) and also the last day of her big fundraising push after stepping down from her Executive Director role last month. I hope you will join me in supporting her efforts. Organizations like these take off with selfless leaders but are only sustained through financial support that dually keeps dedicated, skilled leaders employed and passionate and that supports programs that ultimately are low-cost but have certain infrastructural needs. Your gift will have huge impact; feel free to email me if you need to be convinced.

Here’s to a fabulous organization and an even more fabulous friend!

Top Ten Grant Proposal Mistakes

Writing a grant and feeling like it’s not quite there? Here are some top mistakes to check your proposal for and fix before you submit!

  1. TYPOS!
  2. Redundancy
  3. Length (too short if it’s missing components; too long if I forgot what I read 5 minutes ago)
  4. Vague (use examples! numbers! color!)
  5. Dry (a little passion is good)
  6. Leaving the reader with questions (anticipate and attack!)
  7. Generic (target your funder)
  8. Confusing goals and objectives
  9. Not following directions
  10. Inconsistencies (are all of your numbers and program names the same?)

These are my personal observations and suggestions that I share in my class How to Write a Grant Proposal at the Brooklyn Brainery. If you want more tips like these, stay tuned for the next class and browse my other nonprofit blog posts!

YouTube Seeks to Improve Nonprofit Videos

YouTube in recent weeks has turned its focus to helping nonprofits create more powerful, effective videos, with a new “playbook” guide and a chance to participate in a one-day video boot camp in San Francisco.

The free 24-page guide, “YouTube for Good,” helps nonprofits devise attention-grabbing names and code their videos’ descriptions to make them more visible to search engines,tell better stories, and use video as part of  broad campaign.

This is excellent. It drives me nuts when organizations have amazing tools at their fingertips but don’t use them well; this is a wonderful effort that both makes YouTube a more accessible tool to nonprofits and also improves YouTube’s brand from being just the source of LOL videos.

(via Chronicle of Philanthropy)

YouTube Seeks to Improve Nonprofit Videos