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Nonprofits Report Giving Boost For 2015

By Mark Hrywna - January 4, 2016

Fueled by major gifts and corporate contributions, 59 percent of nonprofits reported increased fundraising for the first half of 2015, up from 52 percent during the same time in 2014, according to a new survey.

More than half of respondents (55 percent) said major gifts increased during 2015, compared with 48 percent who reported that in 2014, according to the Nonprofit Research Collaborative (NRC) mid-year Fundraising Survey, released today (Jan. 4). Corporate contributions were up for 44 percent of respondents, compared with 38 percent for the same time in 2014.

Almost three-quarters of organizations surveyed (74 percent) reported being “on track” to meet fundraising goals for 2015, compared with 70 percent in 2014 and 77 percent in 2013. Education groups had the highest share of organizations reporting increased receipts, at 71 percent — up from 58 percent the previous year.

But the largest increase from 2014 was found among human services organizations; 63 percent said mid-year donations are up, compared with 48 percent in 2014. It’s the first time since the NRC survey began in 2010 that more than half of human services organizations said gifts are up at mid-year.

Charities also are using fundraising campaigns almost four times as much as they were four years ago. The survey indicates that 46 percent of respondents said they had a structured campaign in place in 2015, compared with 12 percent in 2011.

Almost as many organizations (27 percent) said they had a capital campaign in progress as said (28 percent) they are planning campaigns but were not in an active capital, endowment or comprehensive campaign. Almost one in five (19 percent) were running a special campaign.

On average, organizations plan capital campaigns to last for almost five years (4.72) and to raise $45 million. Short-term, “special” campaigns, ran for an average of slightly more than two years (2.23), with average goals of $3 million.

“A capital campaign secures the organization’s long-term future and might raise funds for buildings, equipment, or an endowment. If the effort includes securing support for current operations, it is called a comprehensive campaign,” said James Yunker, Ph.D., CEO of The Yunker Group and past chair of the Giving USA Foundation, a partner with NRC. “A special campaign focuses on a near-term priority. This might be to launch a new program at the organization, to commemorate an anniversary year, or to meet an urgent community need,” he said.

Organizations running capital campaigns were more likely to report increases than those not in a campaign. Two-thirds of responding organizations in a capital campaign reported increases in charitable receipts. Among groups not in a campaign, 57 percent reported a boost in funds raised.

“Campaigns are associated with increased funds raised but the impact varies by organizational budget size,” said Tom Pollak, program director of the National Center for Charitable Statistics at the Urban Institute. Three-quarters of large organizations in campaigns saw revenues increase but only 59 percent at smaller organizations.

Two-thirds of organizations allowed bequests to be counted in campaign results. “Organizations that do count bequests should be very transparent about gifts that are revocable,” said Michael Kenyon, president and CEO at the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning (PPP).

PPP guidelines suggest setting a specific goal for revocable contributions “to remind donors that these gifts are important – especially in a campaign that has an endowment component,” he said. “They aren’t necessarily in hand the day the campaign ends. Good stewardship after the campaign will keep those gifts in the pipeline,” Kenyon said.

In both capital or special campaigns, an average of 6 percent to 9 percent of the campaign goal was budgeted for uncollectable pledges, according to the survey.

NRC Fundraising surveys are distributed twice annually to track subtle changes in fundraising activity and results. There were 1,071 responses from the U.S. and Canada. Past reports are available at

NRC partners include the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Association of Philanthropic Counsel, CFRE International, Campbell Rinker, Giving USA Foundation, Partnership for Philanthropic Planning, and National Center for Charitable Statistics at the Urban Institute.


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