November 15, 2012

Half of Nonprofits Face Fundraising Troubles in 2012

The second study in a week shows that fundraising at more than half of charities nationwide is faring poorly.

The tally of data from 500 groups surveyed by GuideStar found that 37 percent raised less in the first three quarters of 2012 and 28 percent received only as much as they had last year.

The percentage of charities reporting a decline was the second highest since the survey was started 11 years ago, surpassed only in 2009 when slightly more than 50 percent of charities reported a drop in donations. The share of charities reporting declines fell in both 2010 and 2011 before rising again this year.

Three-quarters of the groups that suffered a drop said fewer people were giving and those who were contributed smaller sums.

While donations to certain types of charities—especially donor-advised funds, which depend largely on wealthy contributors—has finally exceeded pre-recession levels, the two studies released this week suggest that it will be a long time until most nonprofits have recovered from the downturn.

Another pressure nonprofits are facing now is a growing need for aid. Nearly two-thirds of charities in the GuideStar survey said that demand for their services has grown this year, with 38 percent reporting a modest increase and 26 reporting greatly increased requests for help.

Nonprofits aren't expecting the year-end holiday giving season to improve the situation much: About 65 percent of charities in the survey predicted that contributions in the last three months of 2012 would be less or about the same as they were in the last quarter of 2011. And of those predicting an increase, most said it would be moderate, with only 2 percent of charities predicting large gains.

How do these studies jibe with results at your organization? Let us know in the comments section below.

Send an e-mail to Holly Hall.