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2022 NFF State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey

June 8, 2022

NFF's 2022 State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey offers insights into the impact of the past two years, from the pandemic to events that activated calls for racial justice. Here's what leaders had to say about how their organizations have been faring and the investments they need to secure their long-term futures.

COVID-19 Survey Results

April 14, 2020

NFF conducted a brief survey of nonprofit leaders to help inform what funders and investors can do as we all look at how to respond to the COVID-19 crisis, and recover and build resilience afterward. Survey data and leaders' stories from the frontlines can be used to advocate for actions that will ensure nonprofits can continue to provide vital services that enrich the wellbeing, health, and safety of people across the United States.The survey was open from March 18-23, 2020; 465 respondents from all nonprofit sub-sectors and states shared their immediate and long-term needs to keep their doors open and keep serving clients.

Addressing Racially Biased Financial Analysis: Why Color-blind Financial Analysis Is Racially Biased, and What Funders Can Do About It.

October 25, 2019

Many social-sector funders that are committed to addressing racial equity don't understand how their own practices exacerbate injustice. Common approaches to evaluating a nonprofit's financial fitness – and "readiness" for a grant or loan – unwittingly reinforce divides; nonprofits that have money have an easier time getting more, and nonprofits that don't – and the communities that rely on them – lose out. This chart offers a look at what's wrong, and specific actions we can take to more accurately understand a nonprofit's strengths and opportunities.

Human Services Organizations: Partnering for Better Community Health - Actionable Advice from the Healthy Outcomes Initiative

May 10, 2018

This report from the Healthy Outcomes Initiative explores how collaboration between human services organizations and health systems can help people and communities achieve better health outcomes. The Kresge-funded, multi-year project focused on social determinants of health such as economic stability, education, housing, safe neighborhoods and food access.

Pay for Success Scorecard: Lessons from the Vanguard of the Outcomes Movement

September 1, 2017

In 2014, The James Irvine Foundation and Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF) announced the California Pay for Success Initiative (the CA PFS Initiative), a $5.6-million effort to support the exploration of PFS that resulted in the five projects launched or near launch and the development of many others in the Golden State. Pay for Success (PFS) is a contracting approach that drives financial resources toward social programs that deliver results by tying payment to achievement of measurable outcomes. As such, PFS is at the vanguard of a shift toward outcomes in the social sector, and California's experience mirrors the nation more broadly. Drawing from NFF's Pay for Success Scorecard, below are learnings and recommendations for how to accelerate social sector transformation.

Working Together Toward Better Health Outcomes

June 29, 2017

Healthcare organizations and community-based organizations (CBOs) that provide human services are partnering in shared pursuit of better health outcomes. The Partnership for Healthy Outcomes – Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF), the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS), and the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities (Alliance), with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) – set out to capture and analyze the lessons emerging in this dynamic space. Information from more than 200 partnerships serving all 50 US states provide important lessons from, and for, partnerships that hope to improve access to care, address health inequities, and make progress on social issues like food, education, and housing.

Pay for Success: The First Generation - A Comparative Analysis of the First 10 Pay for Success Projects in the United States

April 19, 2016

Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF) has released a comprehensive free report on the first 10 Pay for Success (PFS) projects that have launched in the United States. This report details how and why communities have applied this new approach to address critical social issues including early childhood education, homelessness, and criminal justice and recidivism. Pay for Success is an approach to contracting that ties payment for service delivery to the achievement of measurable outcomes. In the U.S., all of the current PFS projects have been accompanied by a form of social innovation financing, often referred to as a Social Impact Bond, in which investors provide upfront financing for the delivery of services and are repaid only if the services achieve a pre-agreed upon set of positive outcomes. The report includes a series of comparative graphics and observations on the market's development to-date. It examines project goals and project design; the partners and stakeholders involved; the underlying data, evidence, and evaluation plans; the governance and investment structures, including repayment terms and investor profiles; and project costs. To create the report, NFF drew on experience as a PFS educator, partner, and investor and conducted research using project documentation, publically available information, and stakeholder interviews. Over the past five years, NFF has conducted more than 200 PFS trainings, presentations, webinars, workshops, and convenings across the country for service providers, governments, and investors. NFF also manages the Pay for Success Learning Hub, www.payforsuccess.org, the leading national repository for education and information on Pay for Success. NFF's work on the report was made possible with the support of the Corporation for National and Community Service's Social Innovation Fund (SIF).

Advice to Strengthen Strategic Mergers and Collaborations: A Catalyst Fund Report

April 1, 2016

The Catalyst Fund for Nonprofits was created to demonstrate how strategic mergers and collaborations can help nonprofits pursue their missions. The Fund's new report, Advice to Strengthen Strategic Mergers and Collaborations, captures knowledge and experience gained from five years of work with more than 80 Boston-area nonprofits. The free, online resource includes "four truths of nonprofit collaborations" as well as step-by-step guidance for nonprofits, and reflections from funders on support for this work. The Catalyst Fund's primary goals were to give nonprofits dedicated resources for exploring strategic partnerships and to challenge misconceptions about mergers as a sign of fiscal distress. The Fund was itself a collaboration of The Boston Foundation, LISC Boston, The Hyams Foundation, The Kresge Foundation and United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, managed by Nonprofit Finance Fund. Catalyst Fund grant awards resulted in 20 collaborative ventures, including 13 mergers. An additional six ventures are still in exploratory phases. 

2015 State of the NonProfit Sector

January 1, 2016

Nonprofit Finance Fund's annual survey asks nonprofits in the US about their programs, financial health, and management strategies. Our hope is that this data will be used to spark dialogue in service of change.

Funding the Extraordinary: An Evaluation of The Kresge Foundation Arts and Culture Program's Institutional Capitalization Grantmaking

October 7, 2015

In undertaking an assessment of Kresge's Capitalization Program, NFF applied its own high-level framework to help answer Kresge's primary research questions and assess the progress of each grantee in meeting its stated capital targets. NFF has found that effective capitalization in the nonprofit sector requires attention to three key financial priorities: liquidity, adaptability and durability:1. Liquidity: Does the organization have adequate cash to meet its operating needs?2. Adaptability: Does the organization have flexible funds that allow it to make adjustments as circumstances change?3. Durability: Does the organization have sufficient resources to address the range of needs that it may face in future years?NFF's review of Kresge's grantees sought to assess capitalization by looking for evidence of organizational progress in building liquid funds for immediate operating needs, as well as longer-term balance sheet savings for adaptability and durability. NFF's evaluation of grantees involved a combination of data analysis and interviews.

Building a Culture of Capitalization in Your Organization

October 5, 2015

The Kresge Foundation is committed to an ongoing discipline of analysis and learning, ultimately using those lessons to inform both its work and the larger field. Between 2010 and 2012, the Arts and Culture Program made 36 capital grants focused on Institutional Capitalization. In mid-2013, the Kresge Foundation sought Nonprofit Finance Fund's assistance in evaluating the effectiveness of these investments.The resulting report contains findings on trends and themes for the entire cohort, including: models of success and characteristics of organizations with weaker results, an assessment of why the program did or did not produce the desired results, and recommendations for funders interested in supporting capitalization. These lessons will continue to inform the work of the Arts and Culture Program as it pursues new strategic priorities.

Closing the Resource Gap: Strengthening the Nonprofit Sector in California

September 25, 2015

With support from The James Irvine Foundation, Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF) used its 2015 State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey to examine California nonprofits, focusing on organizations in the San Joaquin Valley and the Inland Empire. The Foundation asked NFF to look at the challenges facing organizations in these regions, their resource needs, and their overall financial situations both on an absolute basis and in comparison to their coastal neighbors in the Bay Area and Los Angeles.