Nonprofits Still Expect a Struggle in 2011

March 25, 2011 ( – A survey of more than 1,900 nonprofit leaders in markets nationwide found that while there are some signs of hope, many nonprofits are straining under year-after-year increases in the demand for services.

According to a press release, 44% of nonprofits responding to the survey by the Nonprofit Finance Fund reported ending 2010 with a surplus, up from 35% that reported a surplus in 2009. A quarter of organizations added to reserve funds in 2010, and 35% raised more revenue in 2010 than anticipated. 

However, 85% of organizations expect an increase in service demand in 2011; just 46% expect to be able to fully meet this demand. This comes on top of years of increases: in 2010, 77% of nonprofits saw an increase in demand; in 2009, 71% experienced an increase in demand, and 73% of organizations experienced increased demand in 2008.  

Sixty percent of organizations indicated they have three months or less of cash on hand; 10% have none.  Only 9% expect 2011 to be financially easier for the people they serve. 

The survey found that “lifeline” organizations that provide critical services to people in need are finding it particularly hard to meet the demands in their communities. Eighty-seven percent of lifeline organizations saw an increase in demand for services in 2010, compared with 68% of non-lifeline organizations.  

Six-in-ten lifeline organizations increased the number of clients they served in 2010, yet only 43% were able to fully meet the demand for their services. Just 37% of lifeline organizations expect be able to fully meet demand in 2011.  

The press release said that despite the challenges, nonprofits are coping with the ‘new normal’ of fewer resources, and are taking significant and creative steps to meet the needs of their communities.   

Over the past 12 months:  

  • 55% added or expanded programs or services; 
  • 49% increased the number of clients served; 
  • 47% partnered with another organization to improve or increase services offered; 
  • 39% reduced annual expenses; and 
  • 36% relied more on volunteers. 


The full survey report is available at