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Giving grows at most charities

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Andrew Watt

Andrew Watt

For the first time since 2007, charitable giving in 2011 grew at over half of organizations surveyed, a new study says.

Among just over 1,600 organizations that responded to an online survey in January and February, 53 percent said contributions grew in 2011, says the Nonprofit Fundraising Study from the Nonprofit Research Collaborative.

“We saw a strong surge in year-end giving, helped by the slowly growing economy and people responding to the needs of their communities,” Andrew Watt, president and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, a member of the Collaborative, says in a statement.

Still, the share of organizations that saw giving grow last year fell short of  the 69 percent that posted increases in 2006, according to a similar survey at the time by GuideStar.

Last year, 16 percent of organizations said giving was flat, down from 24 percent a year earlier.

And less than a third of respondents said contributions fell, down from 46 percent a year earlier.

Over 70 percent of organizations surveyed expect charitable giving to grow in 2012, although a third say the domestic and global economies pose the biggest threat to fundraising this year.

Fifty-nine percent of organizations met their fundraising goal in 2011.

Groups reported they receive contributions from multiple fundraising strategies, such as annual funds and special events, with a sizable share also receiving funds from campaigns and planned giving, which the report says are more common among larger organizations responding to the survey.

And respondents on average used eight of 10 fundraising methods surveyed, such as direct mail, major gifts and online appeals, with very few respondents receiving over 25 percent of their funds from any one method.

More organizations saw increases than decreases in charitable gifts from nearly every commonly-used fundraising method, including online, direct-response mail, special events, foundation grants, and major gifts.

Board giving, for example, grew at 42 percent of organizations, was flat at 45 percent and fell at 13 percent.

And nearly 60 percent of responding organizations reported an increase in online fundraising in 2011.

Using less-widespread fundraising methods such as telephone, planned gifts, federated campaigns and congregational giving, a smaller share of charities typically saw increases in giving in 2011, compared with those that saw declines.

Board members, especially in organizations with $1 million or more in spending, are likely to be involved in fundraising in a combination of ways, the study says.

Boards at 57 percent of all respondents, and at 62 percent of those with $1 million or more in spending, are expected to give, the study says.

Roughly a third of respondents say their organizations set a minimum contributions amount for board members, averaging $4,977, compared to an average minimum gift of $5,655 for arts groups and $12,250 for educational institutions.

Roughly three-fourths of responding charities said their board members assist with fundraising by making links between the organization and a prospective donor, letting their name be used in appeals at 79 percent of groups, asking friends and associates at 78 percent, and making introductions at 76 percent.

At 50 percent to 60 percent of responding organizations, board members take a more active fundraising role, chairing events at 56 percent of groups, securing partnership funding at 62 percent, and making personal visits at 58 percent.

Other members of the Collaborative include Blackbaud; Campbell Rinker; Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University; Convio; Giving USA Foundation; and National Center for Charitable Statistics.

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