(ALLENTOWN, Pa.) – August 2, 2012 – A pair of Muhlenberg College professors have issued a report on the state of non-profit organizations in the Lehigh Valley. The report discusses the concerns and challenges of local non-profit groups as well as their role in the community.
The report, co-authored by Michele Moser Deegan, associate professor of political science, and Roland Kushner, associate professor of business, is titled “Lehigh Valley Nonprofit Vital Statistics 2012.” The research team plans to offer their findings to nonprofit organizations so that these groups can evaluate their own performance based on community needs. These agencies will also be to compare themselves to similar organizations in the Lehigh Valley.
The study compares nonprofits from two different perspectives. First, the study uses data from 713 Lehigh Valley nonprofit organizations that filed information returns with the IRS in 2009. In 2009, Lehigh Valley nonprofits generated total revenue of $4.31 billion. While this number seems large, it is not spread evenly across the sector.
According to Kushner, “hospitals make up just over one percent of the nonprofits, yet they generate 47 percent of the revenue. Higher education institutions, which account for an even smaller share of the nonprofit sector, generate another 17 percent of revenue.”
A 2011 survey completed by 169 Lehigh Valley nonprofits revealed valuable information about the variety of services offered by these nonprofits, the organizations’ relationships with each other and their expectations for the future.
“Particularly interesting was the overall level of optimism of nonprofits in the study. Nonprofit providers expect less funding and more requests for service in the future,” notes Deegan. “They intend to maintain services already provided, drawing from more public and private support as well as volunteers, which will be challenging in light of the current economy and state budget cuts.”
The study concludes that while the many small nonprofit organizations in the Lehigh Valley certainly benefit the community, they often lack adequate resources to meet service demands, raise funds and grow. There is an opportunity for positive change if organizations work together, particularly in the areas of service delivery, the sharing of resources and training.
In their next report, Deegan and Kushner will be able to make an informed trend analysis, using 2009 as a benchmark year, that will provide additional findings to benefit Lehigh Valley nonprofits. The Lehigh Valley is seeing rapid growth in the nonprofit sector, and the trend is expected to continue, making future assessment imperative for the whole community.
Deegan, who chairs the political science department at Muhlenberg, also is the director of the Lehigh Valley Research Consortium. Kushner is the co-author of the “National Arts Index, an annual measure of the vitality of arts and culture in the United States.
Note: For a copy of the study email firstname.lastname@example.org