A consortium of five northwest state nonprofit associations has released a comprehensive study on the capacity, strengths, and challenges of the region’s nonprofit sector. The 2016 Northwest Nonprofit Capacity Report: Our Strengths – Our Challenges – Our Resilience was developed using survey data from over 1,000 nonprofits in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. The report highlights the progress nonprofits are making in creating a resilient sector.

The study specifically focuses on four core areas for building capacity: mission effectiveness, collaboration, public policy, and use of data and evaluation. The data points to some progress that nonprofits have made, but says that progress is limited. According to the report, all stakeholders – including nonprofit organizations, funders, and government – share the responsibility to support and enhance the performance of the sector.

The report recommends that nonprofits pay greater attention to strengthening their ability to use data and planning tools effectively and to engage in collaboration and advocacy to bring about more systemic change within communities. It calls on funders to provide more unrestricted financial support to strengthen the critical infrastructure of nonprofits which allows them to better fulfill their mission and diversify revenue sources. Finally, the report asks government to seek more participation by nonprofits in setting public policy. It finds that too often an adversarial undercurrent exists between government and nonprofits, likely caused by budget cuts brought on by the recession.

The organizations that developed the report include The Foraker Group from Alaska, the Idaho Nonprofit Center, the Montana Nonprofit Association, the Nonprofit Association of Oregon, and Washington Nonprofits. Luma Consulting in Seattle assisted with reviewing the data and summarizing its findings. Financial support for the survey came from the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust in Vancouver, WA; Philanthropy Northwest in Seattle, WA; and GiveGab in Ithaca, NY.