Research Round Robin: May 2018

Since our April roundup of research, we’ve seen yet more new insightful data and analyses. Our pick’s for this month’s roundup speaks to issues like the higher-ed achievement gap, racial equity, generational giving, and the nonprofit workforce. Here’s an overview of the newest research that caught our attention.

College Undermatching, Degree Attainment, and Minority Students

Last month in The Atlantic, Adam Harris wrote of a phenomenon that has seized the attention of higher-ed experts with force and speed: Undermatching. Why has it commanded the interest of so many? Perhaps because it illustrates the depth and complexity of rectifying the achievement gap that continues to keep poor, minority children on the margins. Undermatching occurs when high-performing students do not attend the most selective colleges their qualifications suggest they could. A new paper released last month by the American Educational Research Association suggests that across all race and ethnicity groups, undermatched students are less likely to graduate college within four years. The paper includes statistics on how undermatching impacts the time it takes students to complete degrees. It also breaks down the prevalence of undermatching along racial lines.

More on the report:
When Disadvantaged Students Overlook Elite Colleges

Next Generation of American Giving

The latest body of research on philanthropic impact by the Blackbaud Institute captures how giving habits and preferred channels for giving differ across generational lines. The last version of the report was published in 2013. For this generational giving study, Blackbaud organized donors into four main generations—Millennials, Generation X, Baby Boomers, and Matures. Along with key findings about how much each of these generations give and through which channels, the report takes an early look at how the evolution of generational giving may figure into the charitable habits of the up-and-coming Generation Z.

State of Black America

Earlier this month, National Urban League published its annual State of Black America report. Using data from several government agencies (i.e. CDC, BLS, Census Bureau), the report attempts to measure full equality with white people across areas of economics, health, education, social justice, and civic engagement. The percentage of full equality across these measurements is what the report authors call the Equality Index. Since 2017, the equality index for black Americans remains unchanged at 72.5%. For comparison, the equality index of another minority community—that of Hispanic Americans—rose by almost a full percentage point from 78.5% in 2017 to 79.3% for this year’s reporting period.

Nonprofits: America’s Third Largest Workforce

Using BLS data, Lester Salamon of the Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies has developed 2015 nonprofit employment data projections. Guided by the proposition that one of the most revealing dimensions of the sector’s status and contribution to society is the size of its workforce, the report finds that nonprofits rank third (behind retail at 15.7% and manufacturing at 12.3%) in the percent (11.9%) of the U.S. workforce it employs. The remaining industries captured in the report all employ a portion of the U.S. workforce that’s less than 10%. The report also contains the percentage of the workforce employed by nonprofits from state to state, as well as breakdowns by service/industry area within the nonprofit sector.

More on the report:
Nonprofits Are America’s Third-Largest Employer, Report Says
The Nonprofit Sector Is the Third Largest Employer in America

The nonprofit workforce speaks: Candid insight to attract, engage, and retain top mission-driven talent

A new study by the nonprofit job platform, Work for Good, found that 93% of nonprofit workers are highly or somewhat engaged in their jobs. Based on a 2015 Gallup report, that figure dwarfs the national average nearly three times over. Moreover, for reasons Work for Good attributes to increased attention toward social awareness and responsibility as a society, the report also found that 88% of current nonprofit workers intend to work in the sector long-term, and 90% would recommend working in the sector to others. Those stats are even more astute when paired with another in the report: 52% of nonprofit employees said they were financially uncomfortable, and understand that other sectors offer greater compensation.

More on the report:
Study: Why Nonprofit Workers Are More Engaged

Global Philanthropy Environment Index

Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy came out this month with its first Global Philanthropy Environment Index since 2015. As a study of 79 countries and economies, the 2018 version of the index is the most comprehensive in the world and has multiple audiences, offering a clear snapshot of the environment for global philanthropy that is useful for policymakers, nonprofit leaders, the business community, and the broader public alike.

Eight key findings of the 2018 index were:

  • Although the majority of the economies studied have a generally favorable philanthropic environment, about two-fifths have a generally restrictive environment.
  • The political environment is a critical challenge facing the philanthropic sector.
  • Regions with favorable environments are linked with higher per capita GDP.
  • Migration and natural disasters had a major influence on the philanthropic landscape in the period since the last Index.
  • The effects of new regulatory changes have been mixed.
  • Cross-border flows of donations are becoming more restricted.
  • Giving is an important aspect of all cultures.
  • Partnerships between philanthropic organizations, governments, and businesses are expanding worldwide—aided by technology.

Roadblock Analysis Report

According to the Roadblock Analysis Report released by Open Road Alliance last month, 46 percent of the problems that came up during project implementation for social impact organizations are considered funder-created obstacles. Some of the issues that the report identified to this effect are change in funder strategy, delay of disbursement, or change in grant cycles. Open Road Alliance Executive Director Maya Winkelstein recently said the high incidence of funder-created issues is actually a heartening statistic. What it means, she told Devex, is that “we can fix 46 percent of things that go wrong.”

More on the report:
How Funders Can Get out of Their Own Way

Add Your Voice

The research summaries above are by no means an exhaustive list of the newest information out there to help us better understand the nonprofit landscape. So if we missed a report you think we should know and share about, let us know by leaving a comment!

Types: Blog
Global Topics: Data, Education, IS Member, Public Policy, Race, Equity, and Inclusion, Voices for Good