Chasing dollars – Philanthropic climate slips

In the face of a slight dip in the philanthropic climate in the U.S., nonprofits still count on direct-mail to raise money and are making greater use of email but finding it less effective, a new study says.

And two other reports commercial firms are pocketing a big chunk of money raised for nonprofits., citing the December 2000 Philanthropic Giving Index by The Center of Philanthropy at Indiana University, reported Jan. 16 that direct-mail still is a key fundraising tool, particularly for nonprofits with revenues of $50 million to $100 million.

More than 60 percent of fundraisers surveyed reported direct mail as successful or somewhat successful, trailing major gifts (83 percent), planned giving (75 percent) and foundation grants (73 percent).

Third-seven percent of those responding rated phone soliciting as successful.

The survey also found that the number of fundraisers using email grew to 25 percent from 20 percent last July, reported Jan. 19.

But only 7 percent of 181 fundraisers responding to the survey rated email as successful, compared with 19 percent in the July 2000 index.

Forty-six percent of professionals said they’re organizations had created a Web page for accepting gifts, the same percentage as in July.

Only 10 percent of those surveyed rated the Web as successful, down from 16 percent in July.

Studies by the states of Washington and New York found that charities hiring commercial fundraisers receive only a small part of funds solicited on their behalf, reported Jan. 19.

In Washington, based on reports to the Secretary of State Ralph Munro and Attorney General Christine Gregoire, many charities received less than half or even a third of money solicited by commercial fundraisers, while charities in New York received less than 30 percent of funds raised by commercial telemarketers.

Commercial fundraisers in Washington reported they raised more than $223 million in charitable donations in the most recent fiscal year. Of that total, more than 112 million went for fundraising expenses and profit, with the remainder going to the charities.

In New York, $194.1 million was raised in 1991 through 581 telemarketing campaigns, according to a report by the Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. Of that, $55.3 million, or 28.5 percent went to the charities.

In 147 campaigns, less than 20 percent of the funds raised went to the charities. In 27 campaigns, the charities received 70 percent of more of the funds raised.

For full stories, go to Web fundraising, direct-mail fundraising, commercial fundraising.

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