The challenges facing nonprofits heading into the season of giving

As giving season begins, many nonprofits continue to struggle with not only donations being down, but also staff and volunteer shortages.

“We’re seeing a lot of challenges for nonprofits this year,” said Rick Cohen, chief communications officer and chief operating officer for the National Council of Nonprofits in D.C.

Cohen said data provided by the nonprofits represented by the council showed that from 2021 to 2022 individual donations fell by 13.4%. Also seen last year, the amount of disposable income held by any one person dropped to a 40-year-low of 1.7%, according to the organization’s data.

This year, things are not expected to go back up but instead remain about the same, a projection that Cohen admits is probably optimistic.

“It (2023) is looking to be more level than up or down, which I guess is better than down but still with inflation, where it is, even level giving turns into a down year in terms of real dollars,” he said.

In the survey, seven out of 10 nonprofits said they believed charitable giving will decrease or plateau in 2023, while even more — 68.7% — expect the number of donors to decrease or remain unchanged.

That comes as a COVID-19 pause in college loan repayments ends, and consumers continue to experience inflation — nonprofits are seeing more demand for their services.

“So, we’ve got expenses up, demand up and resources and donations down. And that just makes for an overly stretched nonprofit sector,” Cohen said.

Money aside, the other struggle for nonprofits is something seen in the business sector as well: a workforce shortage. So volunteering for your favorite charity may be more valuable for some organizations right now than monetary donations.

“It’s a big challenge, which is why in addition to monetary donations, a lot of nonprofits are hoping for more volunteers, and not just during the holiday season, but year-round, they really need some extra hands to be able to help out,” Cohen said.

Cohen said nonprofits remain hopeful that this holiday season will still help them to continue helping others.

“Because people are generous, people do what they can when they can,” Cohen said.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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