3 Themes About the Maine Nonprofit Landscape from our Most Recent Member Survey

Posted By: Katie Manter MANP News, Nonprofit News + Trends,

Every year MANP surveys you, our members, to track trends in the sector, learn what’s top of mind for nonprofits so that we are accurately amplifying your voices and experiences to policymakers and funders, and to get your feedback to ensure we’re offering the trainings, resources, and benefits that are most relevant to your needs.

We are very proud of our response rate, with over 500 member organizations weighing in! Thank you to everyone who participated; it means a lot to our team

Here’s what we learned from you this year:

Sector + Organizational Trends

We identified three major themes in this year’s responses. 

How nonprofits resource and structure their work is shifting and uncertain.
  • About 50% of responding organizations say that demand for services (and expenses) have increased significantly, while less than 15% report that giving has also increased.
  • Challenges with both financial management and strategic/business planning jumped compared to the past three annual surveys, with open-ended comments pointing to tight margins with rising costs, staff transitions, and inadequate outsourcing options.
  • About 20% of responding organizations mentioned challenges with state contracting practices, citing problems with late payments and approvals.
  • Some organizations, but not many, are seeking/exploring mergers (2% say yes, an additional 4% say somewhat/in progress).

Chart of Revenue and Demand, 2023 Member Survey

Our sector continues to struggle to attract and retain our most critical resource: people.
  • Challenges related to recruiting and retaining people to board, staff, and volunteer roles continue to go up. 
  • Open-ended comments point to a discouraging spiral: board/staff vacancies and turnover stymie strategy development, fundraising, equity goals, etc, which in turn makes the organization less attractive to new staff and volunteers. 
  • One in five organizations expect leadership transition to be a top challenge this next year, and most organizations do not have a succession plan in place.
Top Challenges Over Time
Top Challenges (Not Including Fundraising): 2023 Responses Compared to Past Surveys

Government-nonprofit relationships and funding mechanisms are ripe for improvement.
  • Nonprofits views of policymaker supportiveness improved over last year, but there's more work to do.
  • 20% of responding organizations reported challenges with state contracting practices, which likely under-reports the issues, since 58% of responding people didn't know if their organizations were having issues.
  • Only half of responding organizations work to influence government laws/policies.
  • Some leaders named funding constraints (grants, contracts) as a barrier to being able to ramp up compensation as quickly as is required by the current market.  

Nonprofit Review of Policymaker Support, Member Survey 2023

Policymaker Support, Year Comparison

Feedback on MANP Programs + Services 

We’re proud of and honored by the high engagement and regard of our membership, and we are excited to keep making improvements and developing new programs and services for you!

  • 90% give high marks for membership value
  • 91% rate MANP as a strong advocate for nonprofits 
  • 78% feel MANP’s programs and services seem well-designed for their organizations
  • Ratings were strong across mission areas, geography, and size, with nonprofits feeling more positive about membership the longer they are members.
  • 74% point to MANP membership for inspiring one or more positive changes, including the following:
    • 52% Improved compensation (wages + benefits) practices for staff
    • 49% Invested in professional/leadership development for your staff
    • 39% Developed/improved an organizational policy
    • 33% Changed board practices to increase effectiveness and/or engagement

Top rated MANP programs and services are consistent with past surveys and across organizations of different sizes, regions, and mission areas. 

  1. Management and Leadership Trainings
  2. Guides and Checklists
  3. Job Board
  4. Board Governance Support

But don’t forget about our Leadership Transitions resources - one of our best-kept secrets (not intentionally!) that organizations can tap into before the idea of a transition is even mentioned!

We heard that members want to see more:

  • Connections to funders
  • Expanded peer connections and mentorship opportunities
  • Free and low-cost programs and personalized support

These are just a few examples of the takeaways that we will be using to guide our work to better serve you in the upcoming year and beyond. Questions about the Member Survey or MANP’s resources and programs? Reach out to membersupport@nonprofitmaine.org. We always love hearing from you!