Our State of the Sector survey is a widely cited barometer of US nonprofits' programmatic, management, and financial health. We gather, analyze, share, and drive dialogue about this critical data.

Key Findings from Survey

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State of the Nonprofit Sector

Adapting organizations and finances to economic conditions

NFF regularly takes the temperature of the US social sector by reaching out to thousands of nonprofits about their programmatic, financial, and operational issues, and analyzing the dynamics underlying their responses. Gathering and sharing this critical data – aggregated and by sub-sector, organization size, geography, and other factors – is a major pillar of NFF’s commitment to unlock the potential of mission-driven organizations by sharing accessible insights.

When we launched the survey in 2008, economic crisis was threatening the viability of many organizations. In the most recent survey (2015), we saw signs of recovery, stabilization, and growth – but nonprofit leaders continued to voice concerns about succession planning, workforce retention, and their general readiness to ensure long-term financial sustainability in the post-recession’s ‘new normal’ operating environment. As one leader put it: “Although we manage to keep our financial heads above water – our greatest challenge is the uncertainty and constancy of operating on such a knife edge.”

Among the 2015 survey’s key findings:

Under-resourced communities are going without because nonprofits can't meet demand.

76% of nonprofits reported an increase in demand for services—the 7th year that a majority have reported increases.
52% couldn't meet demand—the third year in a row that more than half of nonprofits couldn't meet demand.
Of those who reported that they could not meet demand, 71% said that client needs go unmet when they can't provide services.

US economic recovery hasn't resolved nonprofits’ systemic and funding challenges.

Ended 2014 with a surplus
Reported 3 months or less of cash-on-hand
Collaborated with other organizations to improve or increase services offered

For more about the 2015 survey

Overview: findings & analysis

Data: NFF's Survey Analyzer

National results summary

Arts edition summary

Press release

2015 Survey Partners


The State of the Sector Survey now operates on a three-year schedule. We'll be reaching out in early 2018, and look forward to adding and raising your voice!

NFF thanks the Bank of America Charitable Foundation for generously supporting the State of the Sector survey since 2010. The 2015 survey was also generously supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Explore the data yourself

Our 2015 NFF Survey Analyzer allows you to investigate questions that cut across sub-sectors, budget size, geography and other dimensions.

View the Analyzer