Wilson Center for Social Entrepreneurship


This research paper analyzes the impact of the recent Great Recession on nonprofit organizations. More specifically, it studies the impact of the recession on their ability to raise funds and remain financially viable. The four key research questions discussed are: What has been the overall impact of the Great Recession on nonprofit organizations?; How has the Recession impacted the fundraising capability of nonprofit organizations?; How well have different types of organizations weathered the Great Recession’s impact on their revenue sources?; and What strategies have nonprofit organizations found to be useful in surviving this severe downturn? The study uses the most recent data on nonprofit financing from 2007-2010. The results show that nonprofits as a whole have seen general declines in contributions and funding. But there are clear differences in the impact of the eleven sectors studied. Moreover, the size of the organization matters as does its main source of revenue. The paper concludes with a set of strategies that have been successful at stemming the decline in nonprofit funding. The study provides valuable insight into the ability of nonprofit organizations to survive such difficult economic times and also to reveal the various practices that have been successfully utilized for their survival.

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