Fundraisers’ outlook remains gloomy

Fundraisers for U.S. nonprofits paint a dark funding picture for their organizations, and the next six months are expected to bring only slight clearing, a new study says.

The current environment for fundraising worsened over the past six months, with the Present Situation Index falling to 28.9 percent over the past year to 58.0 on a 100-point scale, the lowest since the Index’s inception in 1998, says a report from the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

The Philanthropic Giving Index, which is comprised of the Present Situation Index and the Expectations Index, measures fundraisers’ optimism about the current and future climate for fundraising.

The Expectations Index, which measures expectations for the coming six months, is up 10.2 percent over the past six months to 78.2.

However, over the past 12 months, the Expectations Index has dropped 13.2 percent.

Almost nine in 10 fundraisers say the economy is having a negative or very negative effect on their development operations currently, while six in 10 say they expect that to continue over the next six months.

More than half of fundraisers say their organizations raised more money in 2008 than in 2007, while about four in 10 raised less.

Virtually all fundraising channels, with the exception of Internet, email and direct mail, are at their lowest success levels since the Philanthropic Giving Index was launched.

While major gifts are down 23.1 percent and foundation grants are off 39.2 percent, two in three fundraisers say they are still having success with direct mail.

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