Nonprofit Economic Impact Report highlights lack of funding

The 2012 Wisconsin Nonprofit Economic Impact Report, released earlier this month, indicates a consistent struggle in the nonprofit sector to meet increased demand for services and resources with limited means of funding.

Published by Madison-based Forward Community Investments, a financial services agency that assists nonprofit groups with loans, the report was initially created to inform decision makers, funders, nonprofits and the public about the condition of nonprofits throughout the state in the face of the economy.

In its fourth year, the report is constructed from a survey of nonprofit organizations throughout the state. The survey focuses on future outlook and funding of nonprofits, capital, strategy, capacity building and collaboration. About 20 percent of respondents are based in Milwaukee.   

Key findings of the 2012 report include:
* Nearly one-third of survey respondents stated that they ended the year with expense amounts exceeding revenues
* Nonprofit organizations with detailed strategic plans are more than twice as likely to have financial confidence as those without plans
* Forty seven percent of survey participants aim to expand their services
* Forty six percent of nonprofit organizations that are supported by government funding noted that their contracts have decreased

“The results of this report are alarming but not surprising,” said Salli Martyniak, president of FCI. “Year after year, nonprofits are seeing the demand for services increase while funding continues to decline. In order to effectively manage challenges and explore solutions, nonprofits, boards of directors, funders and key stakeholders must work together. It’s a matter of learning to listen and listening to learn.”

Results of the survey were presented to an audience of area nonprofit leaders during a panel discussion held Tuesday at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. Survey authors Nick Heckman and Ben Williams explained their findings. Martyniak opened the panel discussion, which also included input about the state of the economy from labor economist Laura Dresser of UW-Madison’s Center on Wisconsin Strategy.

“It is important for us to track what is happening in the nonprofit sector, especially as agencies continue to try to recover from the impact of the economic downturn,” said Kathryn Dunn, vice president of community investment at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation. “As the needs continue to expand, our community must develop more effective ways to support these critical organizations that are dealing with limited resources.”

To view the full report, visit

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