Two out of three charitable organizations said their gift revenue increased in 2015, and nearly seven out of 10 expect to raise more money in the coming year, according to survey results released Monday by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative.
As chair of Giving USA Foundation, which is a sponsor of this survey, I was encouraged by these findings. They’re part of a seven-year positive trend, also recorded by Giving USA. Compared with 2009, when only 43% of organizations were seeing increases, times certainly have changed. The nonprofits that saw increased support in 2015 are the ones developing a comprehensive fundraising plan—and following through on it.
Unsurprisingly, larger nonprofits ($3 million+ budget) were most likely to do this, and therefore saw the biggest growth. About 80% of charities with $3 million+ budgets met their goals, compared with fewer than 70% of charities with budgets under $1 million. Donor retention is critical to growth and continues to be a challenge—especially for smaller nonprofits, whose development staff often wear many hats and have less face time with donors.
Though some online fundraising tactics saw the fastest growth, the most successful were strategies focused on building donor relationships. As I told the Chronicle of Philanthropy in their article this week, the groups with the biggest revenues have been focusing on the most frequently used—and often the most important—fundraising methods: major gifts, board giving, foundation grants and direct mail, all of which commonly comprise a significant portion of total giving. However, more organizations reported declining use of these tactics during the past year.
FUNDRAISING VEHICLES USED
(from most to least frequently used)
For organizations reporting growth in funds received, frequent responses included success with major gift fundraising, hiring new staff, and active board members. Organizations that did not see growth in fundraising results wrote about their local environment or about organization-level challenges.
SUCCESS OF FUNDRAISING METHODS
(by percent of responding organizations)
vehicles for fundraising
Again, the organizations finding success have a plan, with active, ongoing fundraising efforts—not simply relying on an end-of-year direct mail appeal. These organizations:
• Utilize their donor database to help them determine strategies
• Have appropriate staffing
• Do a good job of engaging their donors
• Have leadership (staff and volunteer/board) who participate in fundraising activities
The bottom line: Organizations that invest in fundraising are more likely to see positive results.