NFF’s State of the Sector Survey: How is the data used?
"The National Council of Nonprofits and its network of state associations of nonprofits enthusiastically encourage charitable nonprofits to participate in the annual State of the Sector survey because, quite simply, knowledge is power.
The State of the Sector report tells the public, the news media, policymakers, and nonprofits themselves, what they need to know about how our communities are faring; how nonprofits are better or less able to address critical problems; and whether governments are successful or harmful in partnering with charitable organizations to address community needs."
David L. Thompson, Vice President of Public Policy, National Council of Nonprofits
Every year, NFF's State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey asks about nonprofits' financial, programmatic and organizational health. Our core mission in this effort is to put data into action. To make this happen, we share the anonymous, aggregated results with foundations, government agencies, media, professional associations, advocacy organizations, and nonprofits. Through a robust mix of qualitative and quantitative data points, the challenges and opportunities nonprofits face day in and day out come to life. This translates into a clear and concise picture of how we, as an industry, are performing.
The data and stories you share have been included in conference presentations, policy recommendations, legislative testimony and more in order to bring nonprofit challenges to life in new ways.
How Has the Survey Been Used?
"I use the results in speeches, blog posts and articles to demonstrate the challenges facing the nonprofit sector and potential solutions."
Nell Edgington, President, Social Velocity
- Independent Sector used the survey data in a paper on increasing investment in the nonprofit & philanthropic sector, which was presented to the US Senate Democratic steering committee.
- In a letter sent to Governor Cuomo of New York State, survey data was used to campaign for New York State to pay nonprofits an extra $350MM out of budget surplus to support the critical services that they provide. The letter was signed by 73 organizations.
- Citing the survey's finding that the greatest challenge nonprofits face is "achieving long-term sustainability," the Ford Foundation announced a shift in its funding priorities to support stronger, more durable organizations.
- In a message from Fred Ali, the President & CEO of Weingart Foundation, findings from the survey about top challenges faced (achieving long-term sustainability, offering competitive pay to retain staff and raising funds that cover full costs) were referenced as part of an introduction to two new initiatives: The Nonprofit Overhead Project and The Real Cost Project.
How can nonprofits use the survey?
"While taking the survey, I wondered whether the leadership would agree with all of my answers. We are a very diverse group and have been working very hard the last two years on Strategy, Dashboards, Logic Models, Theory of Change, Mission, Vision, Focus, etc. Answering the survey brought many of those exercises together to show a progression of change that made sense. I am hoping that leadership will see their hard work in our agreement on the answers and that we are on the right track to success."
Cynda Mack, Vice President, Housing & Community Development, Metropolitan Development Council
Cynda shares how NFF's survey can be used to test the alignment of a nonprofit's internal management and staff. Where might an organization's leaders have different impressions or perceptions of an organization's financial and programmatic health? Using the survey, they can measure over time how they get closer to a common vision of goals and success.
- NFF is committed to sharing the data openly and freely. And many nonprofits and sector experts have delved into the results in ways that we ourselves can learn from. See below for a selection of explorations by NFF partners and other nonprofits:
Last year's results can be found here.