Delaware nonprofits are focusing on ways to innovate through diversity and innovation, even as they struggle to maintain funding for key programs and create new ones.
The Delaware nonprofit sector employs 45,307 people and generates $2.9 billion in wages, generating $5.4 billion in spending, says Sheila Bravo, president of the Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement (DANA), citing data from the 2017 Bureau of Labor Statistics and other federal sites.
Bravo says she believes nonprofits need to adapt if they’re going to remain relevant and deliver their services efficiently, thanks to a changing community landscape and the continuing impact of the loss of statewide funding in 2017. A DANA survey found that nonprofits lost an estimated $25 million between state grants, contracts and grant-in-aid.
“We’re seeing a greater reliance on private and corporate donations, since anecdotally we believe the number of donors has dropped,” Bravo said. “The demand for services is not declining but some people still haven’t figured out how to increase their funding streams.”
“We’re seeing long-tenured executives announce their retirement,” she added. “Agencies working with vulnerable populations are dealing with regulatory changes and differences in the way the game is played. And our senior population in Delaware is growing, but the funding is not keeping pace.”
More than 200 people gathered for the 2019 IMPACT Delaware annual conference on May 2 and heard from Facebook’s Amira Bliss, who co-authored a study on nonprofit innovation for the Rockefeller Foundation. That study found that diverse teams composed of people with wide-ranging perspectives and skills are critical for innovation.
“Diversity actually introduces conflict,” James Collins, secretary of the Delaware Department of Technology, told the crowd. “It’s only when we work through the conflict in an inclusive way that we get to enjoy the values that diversity delivers.”
Share Delaware has published a survey that shows the diversity of the Delaware nonprofit sector using data from the IRS master file of registered 501(c)3 organizations in 2016. Although more than 6,900 nonprofits are registered in Delaware, Share Delaware, a collaborative enterprise of DANA and Philanthropy Delaware, found 876 that provide direct services in Delaware and have filed a 990 or 990EZ tax form in the past three years. Of the 876, 621 were in New Castle County, with the remaining 255 split fairly evenly between Kent and Sussex counties.
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