Indiana University

Skip to:

  1. Search
  2. Breadcrumb Navigation
  3. Content
  4. Browse by Topic
  5. Services & Resources
  6. Additional Resources
  7. Multimedia News

Media Contacts

Elisabeth Andrews
IU Media Relations

Jana Wilson
School of Public and Environmental Affairs

Wesley Simms
Indiana Grantmakers Alliance

Adriene Davis
Indiana University Center on Philanthropy

Last modified: Monday, July 16, 2007

Survey: Funding, marketing greatest challenges for Indiana nonprofits

Report provides strategies for meeting organizations' needs

July 16, 2007

Kirsten Grønbjerg

Print-Quality Photo

INDIANAPOLIS -- A statewide survey identifies Indiana nonprofits' greatest challenges in capacity building and technical assistance, along with key strategies for meeting their needs. The survey, led by Kirsten Grønbjerg, Efroymson Chair in Philanthropy at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and professor in IU's School of Public and Environmental Affairs, found the most prevalent challenges for nonprofits are related to funding, with communications also presenting difficulty for many organizations.

The report, Nonprofit Capacity Assessment: Indiana Charities, 2007, contains information about the most prevalent management challenges for nonprofits, the types of assistance they find most helpful, the organizational components already in place in these charities, and the human and financial resources they currently possess. The full report is available online at

The information was obtained from a total of 91 organizations that were either associate members of the Indiana Grantmakers Alliance or Indiana grantees of the Lumina Foundation for Education. Both organizations sponsored the survey along with SPEA and the Center on Philanthropy.

"It is clear that even this group of fairly well established charities face significant challenges across the board," Grønbjerg, said. "It is also clear that addressing these issues will require thoughtful action both by the charities themselves and by Indiana grantmakers and other funders."

"Indiana Grantmakers Alliance members are dedicated to effective and efficient grantmaking," said Marissa Manlove, president and CEO of Indiana Grantmakers Alliance. "This nonprofit capacity assessment will richly inform grantmakers' funding decisions and methods, creating a tangible impact on Indiana's nonprofit community."

Martha D. Lamkin, president and CEO of Lumina Foundation for Education, agreed. "Lumina's mission is to help people achieve their potential through postsecondary education. By defining nonprofits' needs and identifying solutions from within the grantmaking community, this study will help Indiana's nonprofit community reach its potential to serve more people."

Among the survey's findings:

  • Indiana nonprofits face many organizational challenges. Respondents indicated that securing financial resources presents the most severe and widespread challenge, followed by marketing, and networking and advocacy, with information technology, human resources, planning and programs, and governance and operations following in close succession.
  • Six of the nine most prevalent major challenges are related to funding. Half or more of all respondents say that expanding the donor base, building an endowment, obtaining funding in general, securing foundation or corporate funding, and enhancing the visibility or reputation of their organization present a major challenge.
  • Communications presents obstacles for many organizations. At least 40 percent of respondents say that developing targeted communications with the community and clients/members, developing public understanding of issues, securing government grants, and developing capital campaigns present major challenges.
  • Most types of funding and peer learning are considered very helpful in addressing challenges. Overall, funding support is seen as the most helpful way to address challenges, followed by peer learning support and then technical assistance support. Multi-year funding and general overhead are seen as very helpful by at least half of all respondents, regardless of the type of organizational need being addressed.

Researchers also developed a set of recommendations for funders based on the survey results.

  • Top priority: Funding assistance. The researchers recommended that Indiana funders give serious consideration to providing multi-year grants and assisting with general overhead. Small grants and challenge grants targeted at particular areas, such as information technology, may also be especially helpful.
  • Second priority: Peer learning. The opportunity to interact with and learn from peer organizations was seen as very helpful by at least 30 percent of respondents. The researchers recommend that funders look into creating opportunities for peer interactions and information sharing among nonprofit executives and others in key nonprofit management positions, such as volunteer managers, special event coordinators and grant writers.
  • Third priority: Workshops and off-site training. More than 29 percent indicated that workshops were very helpful, with 75 percent finding it at least somewhat helpful. The researchers recommended that funders support high quality workshops and other off-site training for nonprofits seeking to build capacity of all types.
  • Fourth priority: Selective support for technical assistance. Outside consultants, student interns and loaned executives are viewed as very helpful by 30 percent or more of respondents and at least somewhat helpful by half or more, particularly in the areas of marketing and information technology. Researchers recommend that funders give particular attention to identifying high quality consultants and loaned executives to help nonprofits build their marketing and information technology capacity.

For more information about the capacity assessment, visit

The School of Public and Environmental Affairs, which is located on eight campuses, is committed to teaching, research and service in areas such as public and nonprofit management, public policy, environmental science, criminal justice, arts administration and health administration. The school maintains continuing relationships with a large number of public agencies at all levels of government; public and private hospitals and health organizations; and nonprofit organizations and corporations in the private sector. SPEA has earned national distinction for innovative educational programs that combine administrative, social, economic, financial and environmental disciplines.

The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University is a leading academic center dedicated to increasing the understanding of philanthropy, improving its practice, and enhancing participation in philanthropy through research, teaching, public service and public affairs programs in philanthropy, fundraising and management of nonprofit organizations. The center and the philanthropic studies faculty conduct basic and applied research about contemporary and historical issues in philanthropy, nonprofit organizations, the nonprofit sector, giving, fundraising, voluntary action and public policy issues linked to philanthropic activity. A part of the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI, the center operates programs on the IUPUI and IU Bloomington campuses.

Indiana Grantmakers Alliance is a membership organization of grantmaking staff and board members. It is dedicated to advancing philanthropy in Indiana by promoting legal, ethical, effective and efficient grantmaking. To that end, the alliance serves Indiana's community, corporate, family, independent and private foundations, as well as giving programs. Through advocacy, education, information and networking, Indiana Grantmakers Alliance provides resources that increase the capacity for effective philanthropy statewide. More information is available at

Lumina Foundation for Education is an Indianapolis-based private foundation that strives to help people achieve their potential by expanding access to and success in education beyond high school. Through grants for research, innovation, communication and evaluation, as well as policy education and leadership development, the foundation addresses issues that affect achievement among all students, especially racial minorities, first-generation college students and adults. The foundation bases its mission on the belief that postsecondary education remains one of the most beneficial investments that individuals can make in themselves and that a society can make in its people.