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Research Update: Highlights from Recent Reports in the Field

The first quarter of 2019 has seen a number of new reports released that will be of interest to foundations. Here we offer some key findings and highlights of a few recently-published works. These and other reports are profiled in our Research Library, available exclusively to members (login required). Browse over 150 research reports, websites, case studies, and other resources that we’ve cultivated to help Southern funders stay abreast of trends in the field and learn about emerging best practices in philanthropy. If you would like to suggest a resource or have other feedback, contact Stephen Sherman, SECF’s Research and Data Manager, at stephen@secf.org or (404) 524-0911.


The 2019 Nonprofit Employment Report
Johns Hopkins Center for Civil Society Studies

Drawing from data in the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, this report provides insights into job growth and sector employment for nonprofit organizations. The report includes employment data from 2007-2016 and finds that jobs created by U.S. nonprofits rose by 16.7 percent during that period, compared with only 4.6 percent job growth in the for-profit sector. In 2016, nonprofits employed 12.3 million paid workers, accounting for 10.2 percent of the total U.S. private workforce. That makes the nonprofit sector a major employer and the third-largest industry in the United States, behind only retail trade and accommodation and food services and on the same level as manufacturing. The nonprofit sector is also the third-largest generator of payroll in the United States, paying more than $638 billion in wages for 2016.


2019 County Health Rankings: Key Findings Report
Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Each year, the County Health Rankings & Roadmaps looks at the ways in which the places we live affect our health and well-being. The 2019 report specifically looks at the impact of access to affordable housing on public health outcomes. The report finds that more than 1 in 10 American households spend more than half of their income on housing costs. This severe housing cost burden disproportionately falls on African-American households and has significant implications for individuals’ health and well-being. Counties with a growing number of households with severe housing costs have also seen increases in food insecurity, child poverty and the number of people in fair or poor health. The report issues a call to action for funders and other local leaders to examine the data for their communities and to implement strategies that enable all community members to lead a healthy life.


African American Media Today: Building the Future from the Past
Democracy Fund

This, the second in a series of reports commissioned by Democracy Fund to explore the important role of media by and for diverse communities in the United States, provides a brief history of African-American and Black media, an overview of current trends and challenges, and offers recommendations for funders and advocates who wish to ensure the continued existence of diverse media outlets. The authors count 158 publications across 29 states and the District of Columbia as part of the current Black press. These publications have an online readership of more than 20.1 million. The report includes profiles of a number of African-American news outlets based in the American South. The authors offer several recommendations to maintain an active Black press, including building a think tank focused on journalism in African-American communities and providing support for training and learning to build the digital presence of African-American media.


Trends in Education Philanthropy: Benchmarking 2018-19
Grantmakers for Education

This publication marks GFE's tenth year of tracking foundation giving for education and is based on survey responses from GFE members and other education grantmakers identified through Foundation Center databases. Survey responses reveal an increased emphasis among funders on both pre-K education and post-secondary education, especially workforce development. There is also growing support for strategies that address the whole learner and less on strictly academics and a shift from focus on national reform efforts to more local and state initiatives. In terms of grantmaking practices, education funders demonstrate a commitment to educational equity, continued focus on collaboration, and increased support for public policy work. The report includes several funder spotlights examining recent education initiatives undertaken by foundations.


An Economy for All: How Philanthropy Can Unlock Capital for Women Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurs of Color through Inclusive Investing
New Venture Fund, Arabella Advisors

This report from the New Venture Fund and Arabella Advisors offers recommendations on how philanthropy can do more to increase access to capital for minority and women-owned enterprises. As the authors reveal, people of color represent 38 percent of the U.S. population, but only 17.5 percent of businesses are minority-led. Similarly, just over half of the U.S. population is female, but only 19.4 percent of business owners are women. As the U.S. population becomes even more diverse, it will be necessary to create better access to capital for minority entrepreneurs to ensure a strong economy. The authors provide a range of recommendations for how foundations and philanthropists can remove barriers to capital by taking both systemic and near-term approaches. Suggestions for foundations include increased funding for CDFIs, deployment of PRIs and MRIs in support of inclusive entrepreneurship, using philanthropy's convening power to bring investors and entrepreneurs together, and the commission of research to influence the investment practices at mainstream firms.

Stephen Sherman is SECF’s research and data manager.


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