You may have read or heard panic-inducing news reports this week about an 11 percent drop in charitable giving last year, the worst decline in two decades, according to The Chronicle of Philanthropy. What wasn’t reported are vital facts about the Chronicle’s survey that will affect how you interpret it. Also unreported by mass media was another study showing that giving is up significantly this year for small nonprofits.
First, the unreported facts. The Chronicle’s data came from a survey of the nation’s 400 largest charities, which garner over 20 percent of all charitable giving. But since more than 90 percent of nonprofits are small and locally based, the results of the largest nonprofits have little relevance to most U.S. charities.
Second, the unreported study. The Blackbaud Index of Charitable Giving issued this week says that for the three months ending August 2010, nonprofits with revenues under $1 million saw an 11.2 percent increase in giving over the same period in 2009. And for the same period, online giving was up 20.4 percent across the board over last year.
So as you approach this crucial year-end fundraising time, we want to make sure you have all the facts. Last year’s fundraising results for United Way Worldwide, AmeriCares Foundation, and Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, for example, have little to do with how your organization will fare this fall. What will make a difference is communicating a strong case, cultivating donors properly, keeping them informed, and thanking them for their gifts.