December 1, 2012
Nonprofit organizations are under assault today as perhaps never before, with consequences that could be profound for the future of these organizations and for those they serve. Proposals to cap the federal tax deduction for charitable contributions have become an increasingly common feature of budget-balancing measures from both ends of the political spectrum; a growing number of state and local governments have imposed new taxes and other fees on nonprofits, and shifts in government payment methods that advantage forprofit businesses have led to a significant loss of market share for nonprofits in a number of traditional nonprofit fields of activity.This report grows out of a first step toward meeting this challenge: to see whether there is a meaningful degree of consensus about the distinctive values of the nonprofit sector among a significant portion of the sector's organizations. More than that, the work on which this report is based also sought to explore two other matters: first, how well nonprofit organizations feel they actually embody the values they profess; and second, how successful they feel the sector has been in conveying these values to key stakeholders and supporters.To shed light on these matters, the Johns Hopkins Nonprofit Listening Post Project surveyed the 1,500 nonprofit organizations in the three core fields of human services, community development, and the arts that have agreed to serve as the Project's eyes and ears on major developments affecting the nonprofit sector across the country. The results reflect the responses of 731 organizations -- enough to provide a statistically significant sample of nonprofit organizations of various sizes, and of nonprofit activity, in these fields.While we do not claim these results are representative of the nonprofit sector as a whole (hospitals and higher education, for example, are not included), we do believe they are representative of both the total number of organizations and the lion's share of the nonprofit activity in these three core fields, which embrace a significant portion of all nonprofit organizations.