Research Round Robin: October 2019

We’ve collected another month’s worth of research that interested us and has broad sector relevance. This month’s set contains important insights on North America’s declining bird population, rates of vaping among minors, the current funding landscape for women’s causes, and the latest trends in family philanthropy.

Decline of the North American avifauna

Last month, a new report published for a new issue of Science magazine presented the findings of decades of data on North American birds. The verdict: the continent’s bird population has declined by an estimated 29% since 1970. While past research has shown specific groups of birds declining – usually rare and threatened species – the new study shows that some of the most common families of birds have been hit the hardest. The trend reflects a broader pattern of biological annihilation, a mounting concern in the global conversation around climate action and specifically global food supply, as birds are significant carriers of nutrients, pollen, and seeds. The authors of the new report on declining avifauna populations also devote some space in the research narrative to outlining personal actions people can take to protect the continent’s remaining birds.

More on the report:
• The Quiet Disappearance of Birds in North America

Pulmonary Illness Related to E-Cigarette Use in Illinois and Wisconsin — Preliminary Report

Last month, federal health officials released the results of the latest national survey on the rate of vaping among teens. The University of Michigan researchers who conducted the survey found that e-cigarette use among minors has doubled from 2017, a spike that prompted national public health authorities to release the results three months earlier than scheduled. The findings coincide with a growing number of reports of mysterious vaping-related illnesses, as well as the seventh death this year linked to vaping.

More on the paper:
• Teenage Vaping Rises Sharply Again This Year

The Women & Girls Index: Measuring Giving to Women’s and Girls’ Causes (WGI)

Earlier this month, the Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy launched a database of U.S. charities that are either primarily dedicated to women’s causes or led by women. To build the new Women and Girls Index, WPI analyzed public records from some 1.3 million active charities, and found that only 45,000 are women-led, or focused primarily on female causes – just 3.3% of all nonprofits. Between 2012 and 2015, these groups received just 1.6% of all gifts to charities. WPI’s analysis maps the service area breakdown among these 45,000 organizations as well as the state-by-state level data for where these groups cluster and where funding is going. WPI plans to update the data annually. Since the data is current through 2016, forthcoming analysis may show whether greater attention to women’s issues over the past few years has had any impact on the number of groups dedicated to women’s causes, or the amount of funding going to them.

More on the report:
• Nonprofits focused on women and girls receive just 1.6% of all charitable giving

NCFP Launches Trends 2020 Report

In 2015, the National Center for Family Philanthropy (NCFP) broke new ground by publishing Trends 2015, the first statistically-significant benchmarking study of national family foundations. The report, which translated anecdotal wisdom around family philanthropy into useable data, has helped family foundations navigate the charitable landscape and guided their choices for the last five years. Just this week, NCFP released the first major follow-up to the original study with Trends 2020.

Like the 2015 study, the latest iteration explores emerging trends in the field, but with a closer eye to how the landscape has changed over the last five years. Key findings from Trends 2020 include:

  • The amount being given has increased, and money is being managed in different ways.
  • Family foundation grantmaking is becoming more issue-based.
  • Founding donors are more involved than ever before.
  • Families are engaging their communities more intentionally.

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, Environment, Health and Human Services, IS Member, Race, Equity, and Inclusion, Voices for Good