Youth Engagement Fund

Sector Evaluation

The challenge

Produce a guide for individuals and foundations who invest in youth-focused civic engagement organizations on how to address the unique set of challenges they face.

The impact

A guide that donors used to foster more effective communication with their grantees.

The numbers

  • 150 REPORTS DOWNLOADED/DISTRIBUTED
  • 14 IN-DEPTH INTERVIEWS
  • 33 SURVEY RESPONSES

Most nonprofit organizations experience challenges with fundraising, leadership, and governance, regardless of sector. These challenges can be more pronounced among youth-focused nonprofits in the civic engagement field. This is often due to factors like first-time CEOs, election-driven cash flow, young and diverse staffs, difficult board dynamics, and lack of institutional knowledge. The Youth Engagement Fund—a donor collaborative dedicated to increasing the civic participation and electoral power of young people—wanted to provide deeper insight into how its membership might lend additional support to the organizations it invested in.

We enumerated the challenges youth-focused civic engagement nonprofits face. We engaged deeply with CEOs, board members, and staff working in the sector through a set of 33 surveys and 14 in-depth interviews, finding that the problems the groups faced were solvable and that leadership was eager for support and feedback. The report we created synthesized the challenges identified through the survey and interview process and provided a set of concrete recommendations for funders who wanted to better support youth-focused civic engagement organizations.