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The State of Nonprofits: First-of-its-kind report provides insights, questions

Megan Holmes

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There are more than 6,000 registered nonprofits in Pinellas County, but only 1,004 have net assets of $10,000 or more.

The percentage of non-profits in Pinellas with annual budgets under $100,000 is disproportionately large (87.86 percent), nearly three times the national average (29.6 percent).

These revelations are just a few of many in a first-of-its-kind assessment released Thursday by the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg during its State of Nonprofits in Pinellas County event. The assessment is the beginning of the foundation’s deep-dive into the current picture of nonprofits in Pinellas – their financials and their functions.

The Foundation’s laser-focused mission is health equity. “To end differences in health due to social or structural disadvantages. To improve population health through inspiring and empowering people, ideas, organizations, and relationships.” As a private foundation still in its toddler years in Pinellas County, the Foundation is still grappling with how to listen and communicate with the nonprofits it funds. 

Through their continued evaluation and support of the nonprofits in Pinellas County, the Foundation seeks to help nonprofits grow, provide services more efficiently, and transform communities to be “kinder places to live, work and play,” says President & CEO Randall Russell. “Kinder, because a community in which two children can live five minutes from one another and have access to dramatically different resources to help them thrive and grow is fundamentally not a healthy one.”

The Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg, established in 2013, spent its first two years in formation. It took its current name in 2015. The last three years have been spent finding a footing in St. Petersburg. Despite years of careful board leadership, thoughtful staff selection, listening tours and the study of best practices, on Thursday Russell acknowledged that they’re still learning how to listen. 

This assessment is a first step in that process. In 2017, the Foundation embarked on an endeavor to dig into the broader picture of nonprofits in Pinellas. The foundation, in partnership with the Nonprofit Leadership Center, conducted a multi-phase assessment to gather the results of the assessment. A high level scan was conducted using organizational statistics, followed by an online survey sent to all registered nonprofits (with adequate contact information) that generated revenue of $10,000 or more since 2013 according to 990 filings. Thirty of the responding nonprofit CEOs/executives were selected for in-depth phone interviews, and quantitative and qualitative data from all phases was analyzed.

“We believe this data will help improve collaboration, strategic thinking, and smarter impact on the missions of nonprofits over time,”  Russell says.

While nonprofits are certainly some of the most compassionate players in our society – filling the gaps and providing services where others cannot reach – we shouldn’t forget that they are “business-led enterprises that range in complexity from massive $100 million programs to $50,000 entities.” The findings of the assessment provide a picture of where nonprofits sit now, and provides a jumping-off point for further questions and study.

Key findings

The data shows an abundance of nonprofit organizations. There are more than 6,000 registered nonprofits in Pinellas County, yet only 1,004 have assets of $10,000 or greater. These findings beg the question – are nonprofits duplicating efforts and perpetuating inefficiencies? “Is it time to seek mergers and combine forces?”

A majority of nonprofits in Pinellas have a small financial capacity. Most respondents to the survey reported having an annual budget of $100,000-$500,000. The second most common response was $10,000-$49,999. Therefore, the financial capacity of Pinellas County nonprofits is smaller than the national average. These findings ask “Are Pinellas nonprofits at the scale and size to deliver their services/make real impact?”

Competition for human capital is fierce. A majority of respondents reported having a staff of 10 or less, and most reported a staff retention rate between 0-5 years. According to the report, both noncompetitive wages and burnout contributed to high turnover. This illustrates that nonprofit organizations are likely competing for both funding and talent.

Fundraising presents a major challenge – for almost everyone. The report shows that while fundraising is one of the biggest challenges faced by nonprofits in Pinellas County, the organizations do not have the adequate space, time, or finance to train staff on fundraising and development. Only 50 percent of leaders believe their teams have the fundraising skills necessary to accomplish their goals. Only 39 percent Pinellas nonprofits report reaching annual fundraising goals in each of the last three years.

Pinellas organizations have not diversified their funding sources. Respondents most commonly chose state, local or national government funding as each of the Top three funding sources for their work. Only 39 percent of Pinellas County nonprofits report ample resources to meet annual needs, and 85 percent of respondents say they would reduce programs or staff if they lost one or two key funding sources. Nonprofits desperately need to diversify funding, especially in the face of political volatility and uncertainty.

The full report can be found here.

 

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