For several years, and increasingly in this moment, we have been asking ourselves, “How healthy are we as a sector?” The reality is that there is no easy way to tell. To be sure, there is much good data living in academic centers and on multiple websites. However, the data is often fragmented. It is sometimes out of date. Much of it also lacks interpretation from which a story of health, or lack thereof, can emerge.

Working with sector scholar Alan Abramson, it was Independent Sector’s initial aim to develop a report where leaders could find many of those important and current data in one place. After extensive interviews and testing in 2019, we discovered that leaders wanted more than data.  They wanted an informed point of view on what the data might be telling us and recommendations on actions that might help us move toward a healthier civil society.

With these stakeholder inputs in mind, we have developed the inaugural – Health of the U.S. Nonprofit Sector Report – a data, analysis, and action framework to build our collective understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the sector.  We intend this to be an annual publication, with quarterly supplements coming late next year or early in 2022. To be clear, this is our frame. It is not the only such frame. Nor is it the perfect or final frame. As you will see in the pages that follow, the data we have collected in this first attempt often fly at very different levels of rigor. The health assessments based on these data are incomplete. And, in full transparency, we have intentionally chosen not to include sector impact measures, which remain notoriously challenging to aggregate at a national level. Our focus is, for now, on the inputs that make for healthy organizations.

Read the full article about a healthy nonprofit sector by Dan Cardinali at Independent Sector.