Fundraising shows slight growth


A bigger share of charities raised more money or the same amount in 2010 than in 2009, while a smaller share raised less, signaling a slow uptick in fundraising that still lags far behind pre-recession levels, a new survey says.

It also says strong fundraising results were more likely for charities that invested resources for fundraising staff and infrastructure, including volunteer management.

And it says charities expect giving in 2011 to grow and are likely to keep staffing and spending for fundraising at 2010 levels.

Forty-three percent of 1,845 charities surveyed in February by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative for the 2010 Nonprofit Fundraising Survey saw year-to-year growth, 24 percent raised the same amount, and 33 percent raised less.

A year ago, the Association of Fundraising Executives, or AFP, found 43 percent of charities responding to its survey saw an increase in fundraising in 2009 compared to 2008, while 11 percent said fundraising remained the same, and 46 percent saw an increase.

And in the inaugural survey in November by the collaborative, a group of six organizations serving the nonprofit sector, 36 percent of charities reported an increase in the first nine months of 2010, 26 percent reporting raising the same amount, and 37 percent reported raising less.

With the share of charities that reported raising the same amount more than doubling to 24 percent in the new survey by the collaborative from 11 percent in the AFP survey a year ago, the big shift overall represents more charities now reporting flat fundraising and fewer reported fundraising declines, the new survey says.

It also suggests the increase in fundraising that the November survey found charities were anticipating in the final weeks of 2010 might have occurred but that the growth in contributions still did not match expectations for the year.

“While many organizations stopped the bleeding, giving simply didn’t rebound like we thought it might, especially given the economic growth we saw in the last quarter of the year,” Paulette V. Maehara, president and CEO of AFP, a member of the collaborative, says in a statement.

Based on analysis of results from 1,616 participants whose organizations did not represent a random sample and were overwhelmingly from charities with annual budgets under $1 million, the survey says 48 percent of charities that increased financial support for fundraising by 15 percent of more saw contributions grow by 15 percent of more.

Another 27 percent saw giving grow but by less than 15 percent, while 24 percent saw giving remain flat or fall.

Fifty-six percent of charities that maintained flat financial investment in fundraising saw contributions decline or stay the same, while 24 percent saw giving rise.

And 43 of charities that let fundraising spending decline by 15 percent or more saw giving fall 15 percent or more, while 36 percent saw giving stay the same or grow.

For organizations of all sizes, declines of any amount in financial investment and declines in staffing both were associated with a lower probability of meeting fundraising goals, while a reduction in volunteer engagement in fundraising at organizations with expenditures of less $1 million also was associated with a lower probability of meeting fundraising goals.

“Despite the unexpectedly flat fundraising results that charities reported, the survey showed that success was more likely when organizations invested resources in fundraising staff and infrastructure, including volunteer management,” Maehara says.

Among all charities surveyed, only 45 percent received more than half their contributions from individual donors, the survey says.

And internet and online giving grew at 58 percent of charities that reported using it, with more than 75 percent of all charities surveyed reporting using online or Internet fundraising.

And 51 percent of charities reported that 75 percent of more of the funds they raised in 2010 supported operations, rather than capital, investment or endowment.

Sixty-three percent of charities expect contributions will grow in 2011.

Thirty-nine percent expect to spend more for fundraising in 2011, while 49 percent say spending will remain the same, and 65 percent say development and fundraising staff levels will remain the same.

In addition to AFP, members of the collaborative include Blackbaud, Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, Foundation Center, GuideStar USA, and National Center for Charitable Statistics at the Urban Institute.

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