Survey: Charity Receipts Up But So Is Demand

December 6, 2011       Samuel Fanburg      

Some 41 percent of nonprofits reported increased charitable receipts for the first nine months of this year — up from 36 percent in 2010 — but two-thirds of these organizations reported increased demand for their services as well.

The Nonprofit Research Collaborative’s (NRC) latest fundraising survey, released today, covers January through September 2011 and includes responses from 875 charities. About 31 percent of organizations reported the same charitable receipts as last year, while 28 percent reported a decrease.

A little more than a quarter of responding organizations saw an increase in renewing donors compared to a year ago, whereas only 20 percent and 16 percent of respondents saw similar hikes in renewing corporate funders and foundation grantors, respectively. Similarly, half of responding organizations saw an increase in new donors in 2011. Some 37 percent and 16 percent of responding organizations witnessed new corporate funders and foundations grantors, respectively.

Only 8 percent of those surveyed said they were in danger of closing for financial reasons in the next year but among organizations with less than $3 million in expenditures, that number leaps to 20 percent.

Responding organizations reported four signs of fiscal stress affecting the majority of organizations. The primary concern was flat or declining contributions, cited by 52 percent of respondents, followed by almost half with low cash reserves, as well as a limited number of funders, and 46 percent said flat or declining non-contribution revenue.

Among the less commonly cited fiscal concerns were erratic payments (28 percent), an over-reliance on one type of fundraising (34 percent) and declining investment returns (34 percent). Only 13 percent said they lacked a line of credit and 16 percent reported being overcommitted to projects.

About 7 in 10 charities expected giving in the last quarter of 2011 to supplant or exceed charitable receipts received during the last quarter of 2010. Some 34 predicted higher charitable receipts and 36 percent anticipated fourth-quarter fundraising results would be the same. A little less than a quarter (23 percent) believed that fourth-quarter contributions would be lower from what they saw in 2010.

Some 40 percent of responding organizations indicated an increase in operating budgets for 2012, whereas 37 percent believed it would remain the same. About 1 in 5 cautioned about decreases in operating budgets. In addition, 37 percent of respondents anticipated increases in their fundraising budgets, as 45 percent project the same budget and 13 percent expect a decrease.

Almost half (49 percent) expected to increase program activities, 10 percent reported having to increase operating hours. About 7 percent projected increased budgets for employee benefits, 34 percent increases salaries/wages paid to staff, and 30 percent plan to increase the budget for operating costs other than program costs.

Prospects for 2012 are not resting well with organizations. All anticipated starting the New Year with reduced revenue from numerous sources, including philanthropic support and government funding.

The NRC is a partnership made up of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Blackbaud, The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, Giving USA Foundation, GuideStar USA and the National Center for Charitable Statistics at the Urban Institute.