October 3, 2011

Charity Fundraising Stagnant in First Half: Study

Results bode poorly for nonprofits that depend mainly on gifts

What a difference a year doesn’t make. Changes in charitable giving for the first half of 2011 were similar to all of 2010, according to a new study by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative.

The report, released last week, showed that 44% of 813 responding charities reported increases in money raised during the first half compared with the same period last year, while 25% said giving was the same, and 30% reported a decline.

These figures budged by only one to three percentage points from the NRC 2010 year-end survey, according to the Foundation Center.

The first half results are bad news as fundraising enters the critical fourth quarter when giving typically accelerates, especially for sundry charities that do not have alternative forms of revenue, such as government grants, membership fees or investment proceeds.

The NRC study reported that charities with budgets upward of $3 million were more likely to have had increases in charitable gifts. Region had almost no effect on the results. Subsector results did vary somewhat. Half of human services groups enjoyed increases, but only 20% of international organizations did.

Most charities used a wide range of fundraising methods, according to the study:

  • Nine out of 10 solicited corporations and foundations.
  • More than 80% asked board members for donations, sought major gifts, put on special events and used direct mail.
  • About 60% raised funds through use of the Internet and email.
  • Some 45% used social media and planned giving.

Just about all methods resulted in greater revenue during the first half:

  • Two-thirds that put on events enjoyed higher revenue.
  • Thirty percent raised investment in email and Internet solicitations during the first half, and 60% of those experienced increased giving.
  • Fifty-four percent of charities that invested in direct mail or major gifts had revenue increases.
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