Bridgespan study shows funding challenges for rural nonprofits

Rural nonprofits lag behind their urban counterparts in funding from the federal government, private foundations and corporations and are less able to help disadvantaged residents in their communities, a new report from the Bridgespan Group finds.

Funded by Atlantic Philanthropies, the report, Nonprofits in Rural America: Overcoming the Resource Gap, examined the funding structure of rural nonprofits in California and New Mexico and found that the organizations were disproportionately smaller than their urban counterparts. In addition, because most of the nonprofits surveyed had less than $1 million in assets, they did not have the resources needed to build their capacity and fully serve the needs of their communities.

The report identified lessons learned from successful rural youth-serving organizations, including the National Indian Youth Leadership Program in Gallup, New Mexico, and the Boys and Girls Club of Fresno, California, and found that rural nonprofits in particular require leaders with an ability to develop relationships and networks. The report also recommended that, when it comes to funding, organizations focus more on the quality than the quantity of their proposals and that they tailor their programs to meet the specific needs of their communities.

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