Social Currency

Editor's Note: A version of this post originally appeared at the ASU Lodestar Center Blog as part of their Research Friday series.

At Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF), we use financial data every day in our work with nonprofits and their funders. One source of data informing this work is our annual State of the Sector Survey. Throughout the year, I’ve been blogging about key trends from our 2011 survey, which was completed by nearly 2,000 nonprofit leaders nationwide. They told us about their organizations’ financial outcomes from 2010 and speculated on what 2011 would bring. As we look back on what was certainly a challenging year, I thought it would be interesting to revisit some of their expectations.

Nonprofit leaders told us about planned changes to their service offerings in 2011: 

Planned Changes 2011

Although contributed revenue was generally down from public and private sources alike, a majority of nonprofits indicated that they actually planned to add or expand their offerings in 2011. Many anticipated expanding the geography they serve or partnering with another organization in order to meet the increased demand for their services. In fact, 88% of respondents indicated some sort of shift in their service delivery. But it wasn’t just program change; management steps and tough decisions were also required.

Nonprofits told us about their planned financial management actions in 2011:

Nonprofit leaders have learned to expect the unexpected. As a result, many predicted that they would engage more closely with their board and develop a “worst case scenario” contingency budget. If they were fortunate enough to have reserves, some groups planned to tap them. Many organizations decreased expenses. But some collaborated to manage their expenses and a third of organizations actually increased their expenses. Twelve percent even expanded their space. A big picture takeaway from both these charts:

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