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Nonprofit spending policy trends in 2023

October 24, 2023
clock 2 MIN READ

Our research provides an overview of nonprofit spending trends, focusing on spending levels and methodologies, return objectives, and the use of illiquid assets. We also outline changes since our last study in 2021.

SEI's Nonprofit Spending Policy Research Series

We surveyed executives and investment committee members from a variety of nonprofit organizations, including higher education, community and private foundations, healthcare, and the arts, to see how their planning and methodologies have changed.

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Learn more about findings like these:

Spending rates

  • Overall average spending increased over the past two years to 4.9%
  • Community foundations and the arts, culture, and humanities sector decreased spending since the elevated spending amounts during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Higher education spending remained fairly stable.

Spending methodology

  • Sixty-seven percent of participants use a moving average spending methodology, and only 4% using banded inflation, down from 10% in 2021.

Return objectives and illiquid assets

  • While the majority of organizations did not change their return objective, a meaningful 20% did, with higher inflation expectations cited as the primary reason. 
  • Almost half of higher education institutions have between 21-30% in illiquid assets, while 50% of community foundations cited a less a than 10% allocation. The paper breaks down the use of illiquid assets across organization types.

The SEI Nonprofit Management Research Panel completed a survey of executives and investment committee members from nonprofits in the U.S. and Canada to obtain information on a number of key measures. The poll was completed by nearly 100 participants, representing nonprofits with endowments ranging from $5 million to more than $5 billion. None of the respondents are current clients of SEI. We conducted the poll May through July 2023.

This information is provided by SEI Investments Management Corporation (SIMC), a registered investment adviser and wholly owned subsidiary of SEI Investments Company (SEI).