News and analysis
October 05, 2014

Fundraisers Upbeat About Reaching Money Goals for 2014, but Staffs Are Stretched Thin, Study Says

Seven in 10 nonprofits expect to meet their fundraising goals for 2014, although fewer of them than last year are seeing their gifts grow, according to a survey to be released this week.

Nonprofits say their biggest challenge is no longer the state of the economy but their stretched fundraising staffs, with 52 percent worried they won't meet their goals as a result. Only 14 percent said they consider the economy to be a serious problem.

In the poll, by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative, a group of charities and fundraisers that conducts surveys on the state of giving twice a year, 52 percent of organizations said they saw an increase in donations during the first half of 2014. This figure is lower than the one reported for last year, 58 percent, but better than 2012, when only 46 percent of charities reported growth.

Global Groups Did Well

While the majority of fundraisers are upbeat that donations will show a year-end surge, the report suggests that some types of organizations are faring better than others.

International groups were the most likely to say that contributions had increased during the first half of 2014, compared with the first half of 2013.

About 62 percent of international organizations reported such a boost.

Environmental groups were least likely to have seen giving increases, with 46 percent of respondents saying they raised more money than during the same period last year.

The researchers surveyed nearly 1,200 nonprofits in the United States and Canada.

Big Gifts to Education

The report also found that education groups were more likely than other organizations to report an increase in big gifts in the first half of 2014: About 59 percent had more big gifts, compared with 46 percent of other groups.
Education groups also fared better in online giving than other nonprofits: About 58 percent said online donations were bigger than they had been last year, as opposed to just 47 percent of all other nonprofits outside of education.

Among the other findings:

  • Human-service charities may be especially hampered by a lack of resources to devote to fundraising: More than 14 percent cited that as the reason they were unable to meet their fundraising goals, compared with 7.8 percent of other charities.
  • The fundraising method most likely to get results in the first half of 2014 was special events, with 51 percent of charities reporting increases. Major gifts came in second, with 45 percent of groups bringing in more money that way.
  • The techniques that were least likely to result in higher donations were on-the-job drives (only 21 percent of groups using this method reported that giving went up), giving through text message (24 percent of groups saw increases), and gifts from religious congregations (26 percent).
  • Forty-five percent of organizations use social media in their fundraising, but only 7 percent solicit through text messages. Online giving accounts for less than 10 percent of total money raised by all groups surveyed in the first half of 2014.

The full report, available at, is free.

Send an e-mail to Caroline Bermudez.