Outlook for nonprofit revenue during pandemic not all bleak

Press Release: September 3, 2020

Research conducted by SAC consultants yields signs of optimism

CLAREMONT, CA — Most nonprofits anticipate revenue decreases as a result of the ongoing pandemic, according to research by Society for the Advancement of Consulting (SAC) members Karen Eber Davis and Gail Bower. Davis and Bower, nonprofit industry experts, found that 74 percent of participants anticipate decreases in revenue by the end of 2020, compared with 2019.

The survey of 124 nonprofit leaders from across the U.S. represents organizations of all sizes and subsectors who shared their revenue circumstances in light of the pandemic and subsequent financial upheaval. The decline of program-related earned revenue was of the most significant concern for 41 percent of the respondents, followed by individual donations, including bequests (20 percent). These results are consistent with earlier surveys in the field.

The Good News

Some 24 percent of participants reported expecting their revenue to remain the same or to increase by year’s end. Interestingly, income from individual contributions, the very same source that greatly concerned some leaders, also showed the most promise for others.

At 27 percent, institutional and corporate foundation grants and gifts is the second highest source of optimism among nonprofit leaders. One respondent anticipates an increase in revenue of 50 percent or more by the end of 2020.

The Story Beyond the Numbers

Davis and Bower’s analysis moved beyond just data to uncover leadership mindsets. Participants fell loosely into three categories in terms of processing the enormity of the changes faced: Hopelessness or a sense of defeatism, factual reporting, and creative search for solutions.

This third group can serve as the avatar for all nonprofit leaders—resilient, optimistic, adaptable, and even entrepreneurial,” according to Bower. “Some individuals see the fruits of their strategies paying off. They are deepening their relationships and expanding their visibility.”

Added Davis, “Many organizations are developing new ways to reach their audiences, fulfill their missions, and generate revenue—especially through digital experimentation.”

To learn more and read respondents’ thoughts first-hand, download the full report: https://www.kedconsult.com/surveyreport

The authors share the findings, insights, and recommendations for individual nonprofits and those who serve them. The report also includes a link to a webinar with more information plus additional resources.

About the Authors

Karen Eber Davis and Gail Bower are leading nonprofit experts focused on supporting clients in finding better ways to generate revenue. Members of SAC and frequent collaborators, Davis and Bower share leadership of the new SAC special interest group for nonprofit consultants.

Davis is the author of two books on nonprofit income, including Let’s Raise Nonprofit Millions Together. Bower wrote How to Jump-start Your Sponsorship Strategy in Tough Times during the last recession. The two began collaborating in 2018 when they observed a trend towards entrepreneurial nonprofit leadership.

About SAC

The Society for the Advancement of Consulting (SAC), now in its 17th year, is an international association of consulting professionals who subscribe to an industry code of ethics and provide evidence of significant consulting results among their clients. SAC members hail from fourteen countries. For more information, please go to http://www.consultingsociety.com, write to info@consultingsociety.com or call 909-630-3943.



Karen Eber Davis

(941) 924-4860


Gail Bower

(215) 922-6937