Nonprofits in the United States are surviving but not thriving, according to Independent Sector’s 2023 Health of the U.S. Nonprofit Sector: Annual Review. The just-released report provides a high-level snapshot of the current state of nonprofit organizations in the country across a wide range of indicators, illustrating how donor behavior, workforce mental health, public trust, and advocacy are inextricably tied together.

Nonprofits continue to raise money, manage volunteers, and reliably provide life-saving services to their communities. Unfortunately, many provide these functions in resource-constrained, highly stressed environments with less community support than in the past. Consequently, even though nonprofits by nature are scrappy and resilient, their health data indicates they are in survival mode and will not be able to continue providing essential services into the future without systemic changes that help them shift from surviving to thriving.

“Survival” cannot be the endgame for nonprofits. In the public health field, experts agree that addressing survival rates is not sufficient to improve overall health metrics, so they developed new goals that integrate the social factors in people’s environments that affect whether they survive or thrive. Interestingly – but not surprisingly for those who know our sector – many of the key social determinants of health for individuals rely on healthy nonprofit institutions to ensure their economic stability, help them vote, and connect them to others through volunteering and giving. In other words, the health of U.S. residents depends on the health of nonprofits. It is incumbent upon nonprofit and policy leaders to identify and improve those variables that not only help nonprofits keep their doors open today, but also ensure they have reliable staff, volunteers, and donors in the future.

This 2023 health report includes a range of important indicators, and these are our top takeaways:

  1. Social Capital Is at Risk
  2. Workers Lack Adequate Support
  3. Nonprofits Opt Out of Systemic Solutions

Read the full article about nonprofit sector health by Allison Grayson at The Conversation.