The U.S. economy seems to be on the mend, the stock market is on a tear, and the 2012 presidential election looks as if it’ll be contested by two relatively pragmatic moderates.

Business as usual, right?

Not according to the Nonprofit Finance Fund’s 2012 State of the Nonprofit Sector survey.

The survey reveals that nonprofits, especially frontline service providers, continue to face significant challenges two years into what is supposed to be an economic recovery but for millions of Americans feels like something altogether different.

Among the survey’s findings:

  • 85 percent of nonprofits experienced an increase in demand for services in 2011; (compared to 77 percent in 2010, 71 percent in 2009, and 73 percent in 2008);
  • 88 percent expect to see an increase in demand for services in 2012;
  • 87 percent don’t expect their financial outlook to improve in 2012;
  • 58 percent of human service organizations were unable to meet demand in 2011; 60 percent say they won’t be able to meet demand in 2012;
  • 56 percent of human service providers received federal government funding or contracts in 2011; 69 percent received state or local funding;
  • 52 percent reported late payments from the federal government; 62 percent said state or local government payments were late.

Of course, if House Republicans have their way, the situation almost certainly will get worse before it gets better. As reported today by the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that 62 percent of the cuts in the so-called Ryan budget passed by the House last week will involve programs for low-income Americans, while 37 percent of the proposed tax cuts in the plan will benefit Americans earning more than $1 million. Translation: Less money for social programs, more Americans falling into poverty, greater demand for frontline nonprofit services.

“Nonprofits are adapting to continued economic pressure in all sorts of creative and substantive ways, but for many these are stopgap measures that won’t make up for the bigger forces at play: decreasing government support, the unwillingness of some private foundations to evolve funding practices, and a lack of necessary support from some boards,” said Nonprofit Finance Fund CEO Antony Bugg-Levine. “We must rethink the way we fund solutions to our most pressing problems.”

How we might do that is the subject of a post I hope to have up later in the week.

In the meantime, you can do a deeper dive on the survey data with the NFF Survey Analyzer, download a summary of the results in brochure or PowerPoint form, or download the full results in an Excel spreadsheet.

— Mitch Nauffts – Philantopic

For more on grants and grant writing, visit Grant Pros.

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