Nonprofit paid staff and volunteers must often make decisions and plans for the future based on anecdotal evidence, personal experience, or their own relationships and network because there is no well-documented, well-communicated view of the nonprofit sector in their region. What little research-based information is available is either focused on a given organization or type of nonprofit or is a national-level compilation of data that may not reflect state, regional or community conditions.
These are very poor information systems for assessing the capacity of a community’s nonprofit sector to respond appropriately to major policy developments (e.g., devolution, welfare reform) or other changes in community needs. The lack of good information on the numbers of nonprofits, their size, type, activities, funding sources, linkages, and management strengths severely hampers the capacity of philanthropic, public, and private sector leaders to develop effective, comprehensive, and collaborative solutions to community needs.
The Indiana Nonprofits Project: Scope and Community Dimensions fills these gaps and address major policy and management challenges faced by nonprofit organizations in Indiana. The project assesses how major public policy developments are affecting nonprofits in the state, and provides a wealth of usable knowledge for practitioners in the field about their communities' nonprofit sector. This project strengthens the sector and its connections to other organizations and provides recommendations about how to respond in a systematic way to changes in public policy, funding, volunteer availability, or other environmental factors impacting the sector overall.
This multi-phase, multi-year collaborative project seeks to improve community leaders' abilities to develop effective and collaborative solutions to community needs and inform public policy decisions through:
- Review of the scope, structure, and economic impact of the sector statewide
- Detailed assessment of how nonprofits are affected by the rapid changes in public policy and local economic and social conditions
- Study of the relationships between organizations