A survey of nonprofits in Wisconsin indicates 28 percent have chronic financial problems. That's more in trouble than the previous year, yet demand for these groups' services is increasing.
Fund raising goals that fell short are one reason nonprofits found they had more bills than they could pay last year. Most often, those with cash flow problems operated with a deficit. Less often, nonprofits reached out to their board or financial supporters. Those are the findings of a survey of 315 nonprofits in Wisconsin. Ben Williams is with Forward Community Investments and co authored the report. Forward Community Investments provides financial and technical assistance to nonprofits. "Even though the recession has technically ended, I think a lot of nonprofits were weathering that storm by using their remaining cash reserves and so now they're in an even more challenging position, with less flexibility."
Williams says those organizations which weathered the recession with cash reserves are better able to expand as the demand for services increases. 47 percent of nonprofits responding to the survey indicated they were expanding. For others, that may not be possible. Nonprofits which receive government funding saw a decrease in their contracts. And Williams says better-known nonprofits may have an easier time raising funds than more obscure ones. "I think, for example, of organizations that serve mental-health-related things that may not touch as many people as United Way or YMCA... but the impact they provide on those they do touch is so strong. So its finding those people who can shout out the great things they're doing."
According to the National Center for Charitable Statistics, there are 34,000 nonprofit organizations in Wisconsin.