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Triangle nonprofits stressed, survey says

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Nonprofits in the Triangle are hurting from the recession and trying to cope with its impact on their funding, operations and services, a new survey says.

The region’s nonprofits have been “shaken up by the economic downturn,” says the survey by the Triangle Community Foundation. “Many have seen their revenue drop, some have had to make painful cuts, and even those with steady or increased funding and programming are uncertain about what coming years will bring.”

Eighty-three percent of 251 nonprofits the foundation surveyed in April reported an increase in demand for services in the past year.

Yet while many funding sources have held steady and some even have increased their funding, the survey says, more than one in 10 nonprofits have seen cuts of at least 25 percent from government, corporation, foundation or individual givers.

Declines in revenue were more common than increases, and many nonprofits expect more cuts in 2009-10.

In response, over half of the nonprofits surveyed have adjusted their operating budgets for the current fiscal year, and more than half with operating reserves have tapped them for funds.

While many nonprofits have avoided cutting staff, programs or services in the face of slumping revenue, 28 percent cut programs and services in the past year, and 17 percent laid off staff.

Nonprofits are “taking stock of what they need to maintain and even build upon their strengths during the downturn,” the survey says.

It says “nonprofits are frustrated – by an inability to expand services, the strain on their existing resources, and the difficulty of finding new revenue flexible enough to address unique needs.”

Triangle nonprofits can “weather the economic downturn and emerge as stronger organizations,” the survey says, if they “serve their communities with flexibility, collaboration and creativity.”

Nonprofits that “work now to strengthen their core businesses and services,” the survey says, “will be better prepared to capitalize on the better times ahead.”

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