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Indianapolis nonprofits face growing demand for services while resources shrink

For Immediate Release Jul 9, 2018

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indianapolis nonprofits are seeing increased demand for their programs and services while struggling with lean budgets and other administrative challenges, according to a new Indiana University report.

The report, “The Indianapolis Nonprofit Sector: Overview and Challenges,” uses data from a 2017 survey of about 260 Indianapolis-area nonprofits and was conducted by IU’s Indiana Nonprofits Project. It was produced at the request of the Indianapolis Public Library for the purpose of designing needs-based training programs and resources for nonprofits.

According to the report, the demand for programs, services and activities increased for almost half of the nonprofits in Indianapolis over the past 36 months. At the same time, the majority have few employees and rely on volunteers; many are operating at or just above the margin. Many of these nonprofits lack some of the organizational components that are normally viewed as important for good management and transparency. They are also facing many other challenges, particularly with financial and marketing activities.

“The Indianapolis nonprofit sector is doing crucial work and is making significant contributions across a broad array of activities,” said Kirsten Grønbjerg, associate dean for faculty affairs at the IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs in Bloomington and the Efroymson Chair in Philanthropy at the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI. “However, there is always room for improvement, and our research shows where improvements can be made. We are thrilled that the Indianapolis Public Library is using our findings to develop workshops for nonprofits.”

“These workshops will help provide information these small nonprofits need to survive and thrive,” said Tom Probasco, public services librarian at the Indianapolis Public Library. “Additionally, it will provide essential information to those wanting to start new nonprofit organizations and also potentially provide a unique educational experience to students studying the nonprofit sector.”

About the briefing

This briefing is the first in a series by the “Indiana Nonprofit Sector: Scope and Community Dimensions” project, designed to inform local community leaders and policymakers. The analysis is a joint effort of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. The briefing’s co-authors are the director of the project, Kirsten Grønbjerg, and research assistant and recent IU master’s degree graduate Hannah Martin.

For more information or to speak with Grønbjerg, contact Jim Hanchett at SPEA, 812-856-5490 or ; or Adriene Davis Kalugyer at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, 317-278-8972 or .

About the School of Public and Environmental Affairs

SPEA is a world leader in public and environmental affairs and is the largest school of public administration and public policy in the United States. In the 2018 “Best Graduate Public Affairs Programs” by U.S. News & World Report, SPEA ranks first in the country. Four of its specialty programs are ranked in the top-five listings, including nonprofit management, ranked first.

About the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy

The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy is dedicated to improving philanthropy to improve the world by training and empowering students and professionals to be innovators and leaders who create positive and lasting change. The school offers a comprehensive approach to philanthropy – voluntary action for the public good – through its academic, research and international programs, and through The Fund Raising School, Lake Institute on Faith & Giving and the Women’s Philanthropy Institute.

Media Contact

School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Jim Hanchett

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