Seven in 10 nonprofits expect their donations to increase this year, after 2011 became the first year since the recession started that a majority of nonprofits reported an increase in the amount they raised.
Still, the recovery is uneven, according a report of 1,600 nonprofit released today. Thirty-one percent, mostly small organizations, said contributions dropped in 2011, and 41 percent said they did not meet their fundraising goals.
A big burst in donations during the last three months of 2011, propelled by a recovering economy, enabled 53 percent of groups to surpass the amount raised in 2010.
The study was conducted by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative, a coalition of nonprofits and fundraisers that report on the state of giving twice a year.
“With some caution, I think [charities] should be taking it as a turning around,” says Chuck Longfield, chief scientist at Blackbaud, the fundraising-software company that is one of the sponsors of the survey. “They have a reason to be optimistic.”
Boosts to Online Giving
Most nonprofits attributed their success to taking advantage of online fundraising tools, relying on diverse sources of money, and encouraging their board members to take their role as fundraisers more seriously. Of all the techniques used, online giving was the strongest, with 59 percent of organizations that raise money online saying they achieved an increase. That was followed by special fundraising events, with 52 percent of groups saying their walkathons, galas, and other such efforts were more lucrative in 2011 than in 2010. The lowest percentages of increases were for groups that seek foundation grants and ask board members to give their own money; just 42 percent of groups that rely on those approaches reported gains.
On average, charities said they used eight types of fundraising techniques, such as direct mail, online appeals, and special events.
But just as important as a variety of techniques and sources of money is the experience of the people running development operations, the study found. More than two-thirds of organizations whose fundraising operations were run by someone with at least 10 years of experience raised more money last year; only 45 percent of those headed by people with less than a year of experience achieved an increase.
The number of people helping those leaders matters, but not by quite as big a percentage. For organizations with budgets of $3-million or more, 72 percent of those with five or more fundraisers achieved their goals, compared with 67 percent of groups of that size that had fewer fundraisers.
Role of Trustees
The study asked in-depth question about the contributions of board members to fundraising success. Among the findings:
- Thirty-five percent of groups said they set a minimum figure for a required donation by board members. The average required was $5,000.
- Education groups require far more than all other types of groups, with an average of $12,500. The lowest amount required was from human-service groups, at $2,185.
- Arts and culture groups were most likely to require a minimum gift, with 57 percent doing so, while just 11 percent of religious causes had such a requirement, the lowest in the study.
The Nonprofit Research Collaborative’s members are the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Blackbaud, Campbell Rinker, the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, Convio, Giving USA Foundation, and the National Center for Charitable Statistics at the Urban Institute.
Send an e-mail to Raymund Flandez.