A 2020 Quiz for Nonprofits


With a new decade comes the natural tendency to ponder the future. What does it hold? What will the nonprofit landscape look like in the years ahead? Below is some relevant data which I've put in the form of quiz questions, ranging from the economy to personal behavior to digital media, designed to test your familiarity with some of the factors that will influence the next decade's charitable giving. There's no prize for doing well on this quiz, but you may at least find some of the answers illuminating.

Q: The U.S. public's opinion of nonprofits has been the subject of numerous articles the last several years. What percentage of people say they have a high degree of trust in nonprofits? 35%, 52%, or 69%?

A: According to the yearly Edelman Trust Barometer that takes into account factors such as perceived integrity, ability, and purpose, only 52% of the U.S. public trusts nonprofits. There's a large gap when the answers of men and women are separated; 59% of men said they trust nonprofits, while only 45% of women agreed.

Q: How much money is expected to pass as inheritances from U.S. Baby Boomers to younger generations of Americans during the next 20 years? $300 billion, $3 trillion, or $30 trillion?

A: Approximately $30 trillion will pass from Boomers into the hands of younger generations within the next two decades. By one estimate, this is about 33% more than the money held collectively in all the world's central banks.

Q: What percentage of charitable giving comes during the last three days of each calendar year? 10%, 20%, or 30%?

A: 10% of giving is made in the last three days of the year. Some sources say the amount is even as high 12%. The figure for December is around 30%.

Q: What percentage of nonprofit board positions are occupied by people under age 40? Is it 10%, 17%, or 25%?

A: The answer is 17%, according to the most recent data from Leading with Intent. Since who serves on a board impacts decision making, a lack of under-40s can mean less willingness to challenge the status quo at a time when many younger people believe that it is outside the mainstream where answers to serious problems are to be found. For example, before the youth climate marches far fewer people viewed climate inaction as a form of theft from future generations. Reframing issues in this way can provide both perspective and urgency that energize nonprofits.

Q: It's pretty well known that Millennials' top concern is climate change/the environment. What is Millennials' second biggest concern? Is it inequality, terrorism, or unemployment?

A: According to The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019, Millennials' second biggest worry is inequality. Unemployment rates third. Interestingly, terrorism rates as the number two concern for Boomers, while for Millennials it's sixth.

Q: What percentage of the nonprofit workforce is women? 55%, 65%, or 75%?

A: According to a study by The White House Project, women represent about 75% of the nonprofit workforce. At small nonprofits, 57% of women are CEOs, but at larger nonprofits the number of female CEOs is only 30%, according to a 2018 report from Guidestar. A widespread perception of underrepresentation of women in top positions seems likely to drive change in this area going forward.

Q: What percentage of U.S. high schoolers say they are interested in volunteering for a nonprofit? 25%, 50%, or 70%?

A: The answer is 70%, which if true represents a vast pool of potential human resources with whom nonprofits can partner.

Q: What percentage of young people aged 16-19 actually volunteer? 26%, 36%, or 46%?

A: Statistics around volunteerism vary, but according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2015 Americans 16-19 years old volunteered at a rate of about 26%. With 70% of youth willing to volunteer, but only 26% doing so, perhaps there's work to be done in the area of engagement.

Q: What percentage of U.S. high school students say they would never run for public office? Is it 89%, 59%, or 29%?

A: A surprising 89% of American high-schoolers say they've already decided never to run for political office, according to 2015 research by political scientists Jennifer Lawless and Richard Fox. This number may have shifted in the last few years, but two reasons for this reluctance are that younger people are uncomfortable asking for money, and believe accepting it compromises one's judgment. The third major reason is they are wary of bypassing economic opportunity—i.e. a good job—in favor of public service.

Q: What percentage of U.S. adults aged 18-24 say they use YouTube? 90%, 65%, or 40%?

A: As of 2019, 90% of U.S. adults aged 18-24 said they watch YouTube, a rate that places it above any other online platform used by that age group, including Facebook. However, at this time only about 30% of nonprofits have a presence on YouTube.

Q: Research shows that viewers retain 95% of a message when they watch it on video, compared to what percentage when reading it as text? 10%, 30%, or 50%?

A: Amazingly, the answer is 10%, according to research cited by Forbes magazine.

Q: Along the same lines as above, what percentage of emails sent by nonprofits to subscribers are actually opened by the recipients? 10%, 20%, or 30%?

A: The answer is 20%—actually 20.39%—according to recent data from Campaign Monitor. Experts in email marketing suggest this figure can be improved by experimenting with different lengths, tones, and content in subject lines, experimenting with different send times and send days, and by personalizing content.

And there you have it. With factors such as inheritance, demographics, and technology poised to make an impact on the giving landscape, the next decade could bring tectonic shifts to the nonprofit sector. I hope some of data above surprised you. And if you were on the money or close with most of your answers, then you're a true nonprofit superstar ready for the new decade.

Action steps you can take today
  • Click the links above to read the source material for the items in the quiz.
  • Read The 2019 Deloitte Global Millennial Survey for insights on the generation that is now the largest percentage of the U.S. population.
  • Read Diana Holder's October 2019 GrantStation article, “Shifting Sands in Changing Times,” which deals with evolution in funding models.
  • Visit GrantStation's Pathfinder website for more articles about trends and shifts in the charitable sector.