Nearly six in 10 charities surveyed (58 percent) raised more in 2012 than they did in 2011 from contributions, marking the first time since 2006 that significantly more than half showed such positive results. Last year at this time, 53 percent had raised more.
The research was released at the annual conference of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, a partner in the six-member Nonprofit Research Collaborative (NRC). This is the third annual report by the NRC and includes responses from nearly 1,200 charitable organizations in the United States and Canada.
There were no differences in fundraising results across the two countries, by region of the US, or by type of recipient charity.
While raising more than the prior year is one measure of success, meeting fundraising goals—which fluctuate for many reasons—is another. For 2012, among respondents with a goal, 63 percent met that fundraising goal. This percentage is also higher than in 2011 when 59 percent met the organization’s fundraising goal. A small subset of survey participants have responded year to year, and the results were the same for this panel as they were for the overall survey respondent group.
“The NRC survey also asked about donor engagement and confirmed that simple steps are critical to giving and philanthropy,” said Andrew Watt, FInstF, President and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. “Charities that routinely send thank-you letters to every donor were significantly more likely to meet their fundraising goal for 2012 than those that did not send a thank you at all. Surprisingly, 29 percent of charities did not routinely send thank-you letters or emails for contributions received. This basic principle of successful fundraising cannot be stressed enough.”
The NRC study annually asks about changes in amounts received from each of a dozen fundraising methods. The source of fundraising most likely to increase continued to be online. Nine in 10 organizations in this study received online contributions, and 57 percent of respondents that use that method saw an increase in 2012 compared with 2011 for online giving.
Another section of the study asked about planned giving. Just over one-third (34 percent) of responding organizations have a formal planned giving program with staff or budget. Charities that had an active planned giving program were more likely to see growth in planned gift receipts in 2012, whether their operating budget was less than $1 million or $10 million or above.
“Planned giving can begin at any organization by asking long-time donors to include you as a beneficiary, even if at a low percentage, of a retirement plan or life insurance policy,” said Michael Kenyon, President and CEO of Partnership for Philanthropic Planning, another member of the NRC. “Having staff and volunteers who understand the basics of planned giving and who can refer potential donors to helpful resources can make the difference between a successful approach and one that is less productive.”
The 2012 report from the NRC includes a dozen recommendations from partners in the NRC and others with specific steps nonprofit organization fundraisers can take to implement findings from this research.
About the Survey
The Nonprofit Research Collaborative (NRC) conducts surveys two times a year. The current report and prior reports from the NRC are available at www.NPResearch.org
This survey was conducted online in January and February 2013 about fundraising results from 2012 and plans for 2013. The 1,122 respondents form a convenience sample. There is no margin of error, as it is not a random sample of the population studied. Reported results are statistically significant using chi-square analysis.
About the Nonprofit Research Collaborative (NRC)
NRC members have direct experience collecting information from nonprofits concerning charitable receipts, fundraising practices, and/or grantmaking activities. NRC partners are the Association of Fundraising Professionals; CFRE International; Campbell Rinker; Giving USA Foundation; the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning; and the National Center for Charitable Statistics at the Urban Institute.