There's a growing number of "infrastructure" groups focused on helping nonprofits grow, but a new study suggests they're struggling to keep up.
The study, by the Urban Institute and George Mason University, looked at 165 such groups across the US and found that from 2014 to 2019, the median annual operating margin for them was close to zero, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
As their numbers have grown over the past decade, infrastructure groups have chased a limited amount of dollars, and their median annual operating margin was close to zero from 2014 to 2019.
Laura Tomasko, a co-author of the report, tells the Chronicle that many infrastructure groups and the nonprofits they support have benefited from government funds in the form of federal Paycheck Protection Program loans.
"When I was a program officer at the Hewlett Foundation in the late '80s and early '90s, we worked with virtually no intermediaries," she says.
"You didn't have this army of philanthropy-serving organizations and consultants that we take for granted now."
The study found that organizations and groups that serve philanthropies were more likely to operate with a more comfortable margin than small groups and those serving other nonprofits, and that greater investment in infrastructure groups would better provide for staff and allow them to take
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