In October, Independent Sector released our second annual Health of the U.S. Nonprofit Sector. The report details the status of nonprofits’ finances, human capital, governance, and efforts to shape their environment through advocacy. However, data is only part of the annual report. The second element, which many say is even more important than diagnosing sector health, focuses on what comes next: action.

When people visit their doctors for their annual health check-up, the doctor collects data. They check vitals, like temperature, weight, blood pressure, and many other variables to get a clear picture of a patient’s health. At the end of the appointment, doctors typically recommend actions the patient can take to improve their health in the next year, like exercise more, reduce stress, or drink more water.  Similarly, Independent Sector’s report on nonprofit health offers recommendations on what policymakers, philanthropy, and nonprofits can do in the short- and long-term to improve nonprofits’ collective health.

Here are a few highlights from the report’s more comprehensive list of actions designed to improve nonprofit health by our sector’s next health check-up:

  • Retain and Recruit New Donors: Giving in 2020 showed a reversal of a long-running downward trend of fewer households giving to charity. It remains unclear the extent to which this recent change is the temporary result of giving during a crisis, or whether it will be sustained without intentional action by both nonprofits and policymakers.
  • Promote Evidence-Based Practices to Close Diversity and Equity Gaps: Data shows a decline in the proportion of Black, Native, and other people of color, as well as women, represented in the sector workforce. These also happen to be populations disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Researchers can help nonprofits understand underlying drivers of these changes.
  • Improve Digital Access and Literacy: In 2020, nonprofits reported concerns about their ability to continue providing services, and transitioning to virtual service provisions proved difficult if the communities they served lacked access to the internet or technology.
  • Advocate for Better Voting Policies: Nonprofits play a crucial role in democracy through educating and mobilizing existing voters and closing voting disparities.

Read the full article about nonprofit health by Allison Grayson at Independent Sector.