ver the last several years, the literature about the nonprofit sector has been filled with alarming predictions about key trends that would negatively affect the sector’s effectiveness and resiliency in the years to come. Then, the Great Recession hit and many of these predictions—the imminent departure of baby boomers, nonprofits closing or merging, and the sector crumbling—did not pan out.
The ongoing, against-the-odds resiliency of the nonprofit sector in New England and across the country is remarkable to see. But as this study shows, it is a very fragile resiliency. The sector’s success and impact continue to rely on unsustainable trends, including: overworked, underpaid leaders and staff; a never-ending fight to balance budgets and build stable organizations; a lack of investment in professional and leadership development and organizational infrastructure; and a continuing struggle to work out the optimal role for nonprofit boards. Nonprofits in New England and across the nation will continue to play a vital part in building stronger communities and a more just and equitable society. But the sector’s resiliency is at its outer limit.