Fundraising skids in 2008

As the recession took hold and settled in last year, fundraising by U.S. charities began to falter, a new study says.

Many charities raised less money in 2008 than they did in 2007, and those that did raise more saw smaller gains than usual, says the eighth annual State of Fundraising survey from the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Last year, 46 percent of organizations raised more than in 2007, compared to six in 10 that typically show fundraising growth from one year to the next.

Four in 10 nonprofits raised less last year than in 2007, the survey says, while about 14 percent say fundraising was flat.

Among groups that raised money in 2008, almost two in three reported increases of 20 percent or less, while only one in 20 reported fundraising gains of greater than 50 percent.

“This is probably the most challenging environment that most fundraisers have seen in their lifetimes,” Paulette V. Maehara, president and CEO of the association, says in a statement. “The dip in fundraising is particularly discouraging given the increased demand for services in these very difficult economic times.”

All fundraising techniques, from direct mail and telemarketing to planned giving and online appeals, saw decreases last year.

Almost eight in 10 organizations cited the economy as one of the top four reasons for their difficulty in fundraising, and more than half cited it as the top reason.

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