Nonprofit Sector Faces Pressing Challenges in Worker Stress, Public Trust, and Donor Participation, Shows New Report at the 2023 Upswell Summit

Leading voices on the charitable sector will gather at the 2023 Upswell Summit in Dallas-Fort Worth November 15-17 to identify solutions for the sector’s most pressing challenges.

Dallas-Fort Worth, Nov. 13, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The health and future of the nonprofit sector – and its people – could be in jeopardy if changes are not made, reveals the Health of the U.S. Nonprofit Sector: Annual Review today. Independent Sector launched the report in advance of the 2023 Upswell Summit, co-hosted with Social Venture Partners (SVP) Dallas in Dallas, Texas on November 15-17, 2023.

Independent Sector and SVP Dallas are combining the power of bigBANG! – SVP Dallas’ preeminent, annual social impact conference – and Upswell to amplify the Summit’s impact. The 2023 Upswell Summit will provide a central meeting place for more than 600 nonprofit and foundation leaders, philanthropists, business and corporate leaders, activists, academics, journalists, and changemakers. Speakers will dive into some of the nonprofit sector’s most challenging issues, raised by the Health of the U.S. Nonprofit Sector: Annual Review, and identify paradigm shifts required to build trust, influence policy change, create stronger communities, and build inclusive workplaces.

“There is no other platform like the Upswell Summit for the charitable sector. It provides an essential space for leaders to step outside of their areas of influence, bring their diverse perspectives, and build collective solutions for our sector’s most pressing challenges,” said Dr. Akilah Watkins, president and CEO of Independent Sector. “As our latest report makes clear, while the sector is surviving, it is not thriving. Our sector needs to thrive so that the communities we serve can flourish.”

“Working with Independent Sector is an excellent opportunity to welcome a national lens on local, innovative social justice and equity solutions for the nonprofit sector and beyond,” said Tony Fleo, CEO of Social Venture Partners Dallas. “Our partnership with Independent Sector will inform our thinking throughout the year and on the bigBANG! stage, which will return in 2024.”

Leading voices on the charitable sector – including Native Ways Federation, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, AmeriCorps, Edelman Data & Intelligence (DXI), and Independent Sector – will discuss the findings of the Health of the U.S. Nonprofit Sector: Annual Review on Upswell’s opening Main Stage, Thursday, November 16 (8:00 am – 9:00 am CT). The report covers sector health data, as well as Independent Sector’s analysis from 2022 through the second quarter of 2023. It provides a high-level snapshot of the state of the nonprofit sector, illustrating how donor behavior, staff mental health, public trust, and advocacy are inextricably tied together.

Key findings from the Health of the U.S. Nonprofit Sector: Annual Review:

  • Nonprofits are a vital part of the U.S. economy: Nonprofits contributed $1.4 trillion to the economy in 2022 and comprised 5.6% of the U.S. GDP. Nonprofits shape policies and provide vital services to local communities — from health care and higher education to environmental stewardship and human services.
  • Workers lack adequate support: The sector’s most important component, its people, are financially stressed: 20% of nonprofit workers struggled to afford basic necessities in 2021. Inadequate financial and social support, particularly regarding caregiving responsibilities, may be contributing to high rates of burnout and workforce shortages — especially for women and mothers.
  • Social capital is at risk: Despite nonprofits being among the most trusted institutions in America, public trust in nonprofits has declined: 52% of the U.S. public reported trusting nonprofits in 2023, down 7 percentage points from 2020. This decline has outpaced that of any other institution, including the federal government. Combined with a 10% decrease in nonprofit donors in 2022, this shows that people are disengaging from nonprofits.
  • Nonprofits opt out of systemic solutions: Nonprofit action as advocates is required to develop long-term solutions to these issues, but the report notes just a small portion of the sector engages in advocacy work. Only 31% of nonprofits reported advocating or lobbying in 2022, a significantly smaller percentage than 20 years ago, making it more difficult to successfully address the major issues undermining the health of U.S. nonprofits.

The 2023 Upswell Summit will incorporate the local roots and deep community engagement at the heart of SVP Dallas’ bigBANG! conferences, while building on Independent Sector’s five years of Upswell programming, which have brought together more than 12,500 changemakers to learn, share, connect, re-charge, and consider innovative ways to create positive change. The Summit will feature sessions on American democracy, artificial intelligence (AI), and radical philanthropy, alongside groundbreaking approaches to achieve equity, financial security, and wellbeing for the sector’s greatest asset – its people.

Independent Sector and SVP Dallas thank the following sponsors for their generous support of Upswell and this collaboration: The Allstate Foundation, AT&T, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, Walmart, Center for Creative Leadership, Communities Foundation of Texas, Lyda Hill Philanthropies, Rainwater Charitable Foundation, The Dallas Foundation, Amazon, Marguerite Casey Foundation, Peter G. Peterson Foundation, Southwest, The Meadows Foundation, Toyota, Vistra, ActBlue, The Addy Foundation, Bonterra, Community Engagement Exchange Program, The Good Foundation, Katherine Glaze Lyle, Sapphire Foundation, Bush Foundation, North Texas Community Foundation’s Fund to Advance Racial Equity, Holland & Knight, and The Chronicle of Philanthropy.


For the full schedule and more information on Summit sessions and speakers, including updates and changes, visit View the official PSA for the 2023 Upswell Summit here: 

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Independent Sector is the only national membership organization that brings together a diverse community of changemakers at nonprofits, foundations, and corporate giving programs to ensure all people in the United States thrive. Learn more at  

Social Venture Partners is a global network of local Partners aligning passion and purpose helping to build communities able to solve our most entrenched problems. Their focus of helping individuals realize greater impact with their giving, strengthening social impact organizations, and investing in collaborative solutions helps make connections that make a difference and unleash potential. Learn more at


2023 Upswell Summit: Powered by Independent Sector and SVP Dallas 2023 Health of the U.S. Nonprofit Sector: Annual Review