Nonprofit Trends and Impacts 2021

Research Report

Nonprofit Trends and Impacts 2021

National Findings on Diversity and Representation, Donation Trends from 2015-2020, and Effects of 2020


Nonprofit organizations in the United States play a vital role delivering services, strengthening communities, and facilitating civic engagement. In our nationally representative survey of nonprofit organizations fielded January through April of 2021, we focus on operating 501(c)(3) public charities whose activities range from direct service provision to community building and advocacy. We provide new evidence about the nonprofit sector in three ways. First, our nationally representative survey provides important data on geographic and demographic characteristics of the people and communities that nonprofits serve across the United States and the demographic diversity and representation of organizations’ staff and leadership. Second, our study shows how organizations of different sizes and in different subsectors and geographic contexts have been affected by recent trends in donations and how they were affected by the events of 2020. Third, recognizing that the trends we discuss are constantly changing, our study is an ongoing panel study, and future surveys will analyze longitudinal trends in organizational characteristics and donations. We also provide a public use dataset of most of the survey data we collected so that others across the country can investigate questions of their own. Please see our project page for more information about our long-term study plans.

Fact sheets:

Findings on US Donation Trends, 2015–2020: Nonprofit Trends and Impacts 2021

National Findings on Diversity and Representation in the Nonprofit Sector

This report was corrected on October 15, 2021, and October 26, 2021. In box 2, we explain that we use “people of color” to represent people survey respondents identified as a race or ethnicity other than non-Hispanic white (a previous version incorrectly said “identified as non-Hispanic white”). In addition, two percentages in table 3 had been switched: overall donations from 2015 through 2019 increased for 52 percent (not 46 percent) of organizations led by executive directors of color, and overall donations increased in 2020 for 46 percent (not 52 percent) of organizations led by non-Hispanic white executive directors. Lastly, in this version, we report that 46 percent (not 49 percent) of board chairs are female.

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