Nonprofit sector faces challenges as donations decline

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Even after being battered by the Great recession, Delaware’s philanthropic sector remains a vibrant and vital part of the state’s economy, driving the expenditure of billions of dollars and providing 14% of the jobs in the state.

But the health of the sector is at risk. Both institutional and individual giving have declined since the recession began and more nonprofits than ever find themselves operating in the red. Care must be taken to nurture the sector if Delaware is to continue to enjoy its benefits for years to come.

These are among the findings of a recent study of Delaware’s philanthropic sector sponsored by members of the Delaware Grantmakers Association, a coalition of foundations and corporate funding programs that work to support Delaware.

The study, Delaware’s Philanthropic Sector: A Post-Recession Assessment, is a companion report to Philanthropy in the First State, released in 2009. Both studies examine the nonprofit organizations active in Delaware and the individual giving and organized philanthropy that support them.

In 2010, the most recent year for which comprehensive data are available, the philanthropic sector posted some robust statistics:

Delaware’s primary grantmakers invested $75 million in Delaware nonprofits; Individuals in Delaware gave more than $467 million in charitable gifts;

Nonprofts in Delaware generated $5.3 billion in revenues and provided more than 60,000 jobs – equivalent to 14% of all civilian, non-farm jobs in the state.

Yet both grantmaker and individual giving are down from their pre-Recession levels, with individual giving off by 12%. In the face of this decline, coupled with cuts in government support and increasing demand for services, 48% of Delaware nonprofits found themselves operating in the red — spending more than they received — in 2010.

In order to return the philanthropic sector to its pre-Recession health, Delaware needs to stimulate giving by individuals and grantmakers, and work strategically to ensure that Delaware’s nonprofits have the capacity necessary to meet both the community’s needs and expectations. All sectors — philanthropy, the business sector and the public sector, must join in this effort.

Copies of the report are available at www.delawaregrantmakers.org.

The Delaware Grantmakers Association works to strengthen philanthropy in Delaware through public education and advocacy and to grow the number of institutional donors supporting Delaware nonprofits.

 

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