As the recession spread worldwide in the fall of 2008, many nonprofit organizations in New York and across the United States faced major operating stresses that jeopardized their programs and disrupted their plans. As the impact of the economic downturn on the nonprofit sector deepened, an increasing number of the nation's 1.6 million nonprofit organizations changed their budgets, structures, and activities to strive for stability. More than four years later, most organizations are operating with a revised set of assumptions, procedures, and partners. Decreased cash flow, exacerbated by an increased demand for services, has trapped the nonprofit sector in a constant state of financial strain. At stake is not only the viability of particular organizations and their employees, but also the millions of people who are the beneficiaries of their services.
The report, Charting the Course, identifies steps that nonprofit organizations can take to address the economic issues affecting the sector nationwide, while focusing on data and examples from New York City's nonprofit sector. It draws upon national and local studies for factual data about economy-related stresses affecting the nonprofit sector. It gives special attention to the experiences of human services, economic development, and community based organizations for two reasons. Those organizations often have roots in the neighborhoods where their low-income constituents live, making their safety net services vital when an economic crisis leaves millions of Americans unemployed and underemployed. Moreover, many of these organizations rely heavily on state and local government funding, so state and local government budget cuts greatly endanger their programs.