It may be the most generous state, but Utah’s charity sector still suffered a serious blow –- it lost 38 percent of its nonprofits since 2009.
A recent study released by the Community Foundation of Utah found that the number of nonprofits in the Beehive State dropped to 3,568 registered charities in the past three years, a 38 percent decline. While the recession, and the fact that most charities weren’t able to keep capital on hand, were to blame some surviving organizations say they’re feeling hopeful about their futures.
“At the beginning of the recession, corporate giving in Utah tanked,” Fraser Nelson, executive director of the Community Foundation of Utah, told Deseret News. “There is no doubt that the worst nonprofits hit were in rural areas. Our data has showed this consistently.”
While the numbers are disheartening for the nonprofit community, Utah still has more charities per person than the national average. The state has 16 active charities per 10,000 residents, compared with 11.6 in the overall United States.
The state can also still keep its faith in its donors.
According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s study “How Americans Give," Utahns donated on average 10.6 percent of their discretionary income to charity, which is more than twice the national average. Most of these donations are likely related to paying tithing to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which without would put Utah in last place among the states in per capita giving to non-faith causes, according to the study.
Despite the hefty loss of nonprofits, the sector has seen some bright spots recently.
A 2009 Community Foundation of Utah study found that 35 percent of Utah’s nonprofits had no operating capital in the bank. In July, just 8 percent of nonprofits didn’t have any money in the bank.
To make sure that charities continue to see more bolstering numbers, the state’s nonprofits have acknowledged that they need to find innovative ways, outside of soliciting donations, to survive.
“The economic crisis forced our organization to think outside the box and come up with a way to "save" ourselves,” one respondent to the survey said. “The organization previously relied 100% on support from foundations and private donors. Now we can almost completely sustain [our work] through funding received from a program we started in 2009 to address our funding crisis at that time.”
Click through the slideshow below to find out which U.S. cities are the most charitable, according to Scarborough Research.