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LSA Together logoClues to the Future 
... April 2010

Looking forward by looking back

Several recently released survey reports look back on the previous year and provide some insight into trends likely to continue for at least the next year. These downloadable reports from the nonprofit sector can be useful resources as board and staff Lutheran social ministry leaders prepare for the near future.

Many trends in nonprofit governance noted throughout 2009 are likely to gain momentum in the next few years. The new IRS Form 990 requires nonprofits to disclose a great deal of information about their governance policies, practices and procedures. This is resulting in increased formalization of policies related to whistleblower protections, document retention, conflict of interest, red flag rules, separate audit committees, and full board review of Forms 990 and executive compensation.

Trends toward greater board engagement in strategic planning, fundraising, and monitoring operations and outcomes are also manifesting themselves in part due to a rapidly changing external environment that includes the effects of the economic recession. More boards are implementing term limits (78%), while board size and number and type of committees has remained fairly constant. Read more in the Grant Thornton 2009 National Board Governance Survey for Not-for-Profit Organizations at

The Nonprofit Finance Fund recently released its 2010 State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey findings. More than 1,300 organizations across a variety of fields responded. Organizations not only reported on their experience in the past year, but speculated about the coming year. Some themes were an anticipated increase in demand for services accompanied by a decrease in government, foundation and corporate funding. However, most believed that individual and board giving would increase or remain the same. 61% of organizations reporting had three months or fewer of cash on hand. The survey also asked about the steps organizations had taken in light of the economic recession. See the results at

LSA also asked its members to share how the economic climate has affected them over the past year and what they are learning and anticipating. A Call to Care, 2010 Update share the observations of Lutheran social ministry organizations. While state budget crises are leading to decreasing reimbursement, changing service portfolios, slowing of expansion plans, and significant concern for future cuts, the individual giving picture is much more varied. Many organizations report that donors have remained loyal and some have stepped up their giving. In response to economic changes Lutheran organizations have taken action to reduce costs and, in many cases, to admit that they have reached the limits of doing more with less and must now do “less with less.” Read the report at

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