A Deep-Dive into Nonprofit Quarterly’s Financial Commons Survey Report

pexels-lukas-590022Don’t worry, 2020 is just about over. Finally. Nonprofit Quarterly looked back at the year and how it impacted nonprofit revenue and programming through a collaborative initiative with Propel Nonprofits and FMA. Nonprofit Quarterly surveyed 572 people, asking them about the factors that affected their programming and finances this year. Here are the findings:

  1. "A Confluence of Powerful Forces":The first question Nonprofit Quarterly asked survey participants about the degree to which their nonprofits had been affected by four specific “forces” in 2020: COVID-19/Shelter-in-Place, Economy, Racial Justice, Elections. The response options were “Whole Lot,” “Good Deal,” “Somewhat,” and “Very Little.” Fifty-two percent of survey participants responded that COVID-19 had affected them a “whole lot” this year and 30 percent responded that they had been affected a “good deal.” The next most significant event was the economic downturn, with 54 percent of survey participants saying they were either affected a “whole lot” or a “good deal.”
  2. "PPP Loans Widespread": The second question Nonprofit Quarterly asked was how many groups had taken advantage of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans. The survey found that 70 percent of survey respondents utilized PPP loans.
  3. "Revenue Performance Better than Feared but Varies Greatly by Field and Program Model": Many were surprised to see that their revenue performance remained the same or better than previous years, with 56 percent of survey respondents saying their income levels were “flat or higher compared with last year.” Nonprofit Quarterly attributes some of this to the acquisition of PPP loans by many nonprofits. However, this varied greatly by field. While advocacy and non-direct organizations reported flat or higher-than-last-year revenue, the arts groups saw large decreases in revenue, with 70 percent of respondents reporting income 16 percent or more lower than last year.
  4. "Adaptation Abounds": Adaptation was the name of the game this year, and many respondents reported that they adapted their program delivery and fundraising. Nonprofit Quarterly asked if nonprofits had any of these three experiences with programs or fundraisers in 2020: put on hiatus, innovated so it could be delivered, and/or permanently discontinued. Seventy-seven percent of respondents said that they innovated and delivered with program adaptions, and 55 percent said they innovated and delivered in fundraising adaptations.

The survey was incredibly revealing, and it is continuously empowering to see how nonprofits have adapted their programming and fundraising efforts to adjust to an unprecedented year.