2022 Survey of Nonprofit Leaders Finds Improved Conditions Among Ongoing Concerns

Every year, Grassi’s Nonprofit Leadership Survey gauges current conditions and outlooks in the nonprofit sector and gathers meaningful real-time data to help leaders benchmark and advance their organizations. Here are the key takeaways from the 2022 survey findings, released this fall:

Conditions are improving. When compared to the 2021 survey results, this year’s findings show vast improvements in certain areas of the nonprofit sector. The percentage of organizations conducting employee layoffs and furloughs decreased sharply from 31% to 12%. The percentage implementing hiring freezes was cut in half (from 20% in 2021 to 10% this year). Funding levels increased for 44% of respondents (compared to 26% in 2021). The sector is also making strides in the area of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI), with 71% of firms reporting they have a DEI plan (up from 50% in 2021).

Certain challenges are worsening. While rising costs are always a concern, the impact of inflation and other economic factors is clearly evident in the 2022 survey results. Operating costs increased significantly for 74% of the respondents (compared to 33% in 2021). At the same time, organizations reporting an increase in demand for services jumped from 51% to 68%. More than 60% say their funding is insufficient to fulfill their missions. Attracting and retaining talent is still a top concern, but now for 70% of respondents (up from 60% in 2021).

Risks are still going unaddressed. Even after the COVID-19 crisis, more than half of all respondents do not have a business continuity or disaster recovery plan. A minority of respondents across all sub-sectors surveyed conduct annual board performance and skills assessments, and only 27% feel their board’s financial understanding is “excellent.” Less than half of organizations reported “keeping up with digital technology” as one of their top three priorities.

Nonprofits are finding resourceful solutions. Amid ongoing challenges and uncertainty, increasingly more organizations are innovating their way to sustainability. More respondents in 2022 reported making the following strategic changes: creating new programs and services; collaborating with other organizations; and targeting populations not previously served. The survey also found increased levels of board engagement, diversity and training.

To read more about these findings and how they varied by sub-sector, click here to download a complimentary copy of the full survey report. For assistance with applying the data to your organization or implementing strategies to overcome these challenges, contact David M. Rottkamp, Nonprofit Practice Leader, at drottkamp@grassiadvisors.com.


David M. Rottkamp David M. Rottkamp, CPA, is an Audit Partner, Not-for-Profit Practice Leader, at Grassi. David has over 35 years of experience providing audit and advisory services to the not-for-profit and health care industries. David focuses on organizations serving individuals with special needs, religious organizations, educational institutions, membership associations, social service providers, healthcare providers, foundations, and the arts and culture world. David’s technical knowledge allows him... Read full bio

Bryan Fryer Bryan Fryer is a Consulting Principal in Grassi’s Nonprofit Practice. In this role, he is committed to advising nonprofit organizations, associations, and foundations on improving financial health, mitigating risk, and achieving long-term sustainability. Bryan specializes in providing outsourced CFO and Controller services that are customized to each client’s specific level of need. These services include establishing and maintaining accounting policies and procedures, conducting risk... Read full bio

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