Mid-South nonprofits and the economy: a special request

If you are a nonprofit executive in the Mid-South, we hope you received a link to a very important survey the Alliance is now conducting.

Data from this survey will be used to develop the Alliance’s third annual report on the impact of the economy on Mid-South nonprofits.

If you are the Executive Director of your organization and have not yet completed the survey, please consider spending the time to do so. This is the only study of its kind in the Mid-South, providing funders, public officials, researchers, and nonprofit support organizations with essential information about how local nonprofits are faring in the current economy.

The recession that began in 2007 has had severe and lasting effects on local nonprofits. Not only did all major funding streams decline, but needs for nonprofit services began to skyrocket.  In the summer of 2009, the Alliance published Downstream and in Demand, the  first study of the impact of the recession on the local nonprofit sector. The report provided a comprehensive look at the extent of the financial impact on local organizations, as well as the strategies emerging to survive the crisis and the most important areas of risk and need. In 2010, we conducted another study to determine what had changed, updating this snapshot of the sector as it struggled with continued revenue losses and growing demands, as well as to uncover emerging strategies for sustainability.

In 2010, we found that although some organizations were faring better, others were not. Some that felt fairly protected from the first wave of the recession were beginning to see their earned income fall off or their multi-year grants not renewed. Still others were experiencing the longer-term effects on their constituents, such as those who stopped receiving unemployment or health benefits. In 2010, many nonprofits began making decisions and implementing changes—in programs, staffing, business models, fundraising–to weather the storm.

Since the beginning of the recession, nonprofit experts across the country have devoted significant attention to understanding how nonprofits have been affected. Recent analysis has focused on the expectation that Federal budget cuts, along with state and local budget crises, will fuel a third wave of struggles for nonprofits, and one that may last at least another decade. Earlier hopes that the second decade of the 21st century would be one of significant Federal investment in nonprofit partnerships have largely been quashed. Other observers have pointed out that the purported reversal of the decline in private funding has not extended to less wealthy, less well-connected institutions, those operating on the slimmest margins to deliver the most basic human services.

So if we already know what’s happened and what to expect, why survey local nonprofits?

1. To identify trends in the Mid-South nonprofit microclimate — our unique community needs, organizations, and philanthropic  resources.
2. To better understand the structural factors challenging the health of the local nonprofit sector.
3. To identify how local nonprofits are adapting to the current environment and creating impact even with limited resources.
4. To build common ground and a stronger voice as a sector that employs and serves hundreds of thousands of people in the Mid-South.
5. To communicate essential information about our role and needs to funders, public officials, and others that can help provide resources and strategies to support the sector.

If you are a nonprofit ED or CEO and have not yet taken the survey, please follow this link and do so today. We request that only one person per organization (the ED/CEO or designated financial officer) complete the survey. Your participation in this survey reflects a deep commitment to our community and the essential role of nonprofits in the Mid-South. You can learn more about this research by visiting our 2010 report here, and please don’t hesitate to be in touch with any questions or suggestions. Thank you!

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