New MCF Initiative Seeks to Better Understand the Dane County Nonprofit Sector

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The Community Resource iniatitive will provide more comprehensive information on nonprofits to donors so they can make informed decisions, and capacity building for nonprofits to help them thrive. 

The number of nonprofit organizations in Dane County has doubled in the last two decades. To what degree is this proliferation indicative of a nonprofit sector that’s healthy and vibrant or full of redundancies and confusion? What does the sector need to meet the challenges facing our community? To answer these big questions some basic analysis of the nonprofit landscape is essential.

New research by Madison Community Foundation, compiled in a report called "Sifting Through Abundance: Outlining the Nonprofit Sector in Dane County," provides various data that serve as introductory signposts for navigating this complicated landscape.

Included are:

  • the number of organizations at present and over time
  • the amount of nonprofits relative to population and compared to the proportion in other locales
  • analysis of nonprofits and their annual revenue by subsector (such as the arts, environment, health, or human services)

Some of the key findings are that:

  • The city of Madison has a high number of nonprofits relative to population but not the highest relative when compared to other cities
  • The annual revenue of nonprofits in Dane County is $5.2 billion
  • 55% of organizations in the county operate with annual revenues under $25,000
  • Over half of the total revenue flows to nonprofits devoted to health and over 80% flows to just 56 organizations

The report helps lay the groundwork for further research into and discussion about the specific capabilities, assets, and shortcomings of organizations and the challenges they face in addressing the specific needs of our community and its individual residents.

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