Key Findings of the Late Fall 2011 Nonprofit Fundraising Study

Changes charitable receipts and demand, 2011 compared to 2010The findings of the late fall nonprofit fundraising study, which compare fundraising results during the first nine months of 2011 to those during the same period a year ago, present a glass half empty/glass half full picture:

  • Half full. Some 41  percent of participants reported that charitable receipts had increased, compared to 36 percent reporting an increase in 2010.
  • Half-empty. An even greater proportion, 65 percent, reported increased demand for their services this year compared to last year.
  • Half empty. Smaller charities—those with less than $3 million in total expenditures—were less likely to report increased fundraising results and more likely to report plans to cut budgets and services in 2012.
  • Half empty. A significant proportion of participants report four signs of fiscal stress: flat or declining contributions (52 percent), low cash reserves (48 percent), limited number of funders (48 percent), and flat or declining non-contributions revenue (46 percent; non-contributions revenue includes but is not limited to government funding).
  • Half empty. Some 8 percent of all charities represented in the survey are in danger of closing for financial reasons. That figure jumps to 20 percent when looking at smaller organizations.

Participants' predictions for the end of 2011 and for 2012 continue the half empty/half full scenario:

  • Half full. Some 70 percent of participants expect giving during the last quarter of 2011 to equal or exceed charitable receipts during the last quarter of 2010, with 34 percent predicting higher charitable receipts and 36 percent anticipating that Q4 fundraising results will be the same. Only 23 percent predict that Q4 contributions will be lower.
  • Half empty. Organizations of all sizes anticipate starting 2012 with reduced revenue from numerous sources, including philanthropic support and government funding.

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About the Survey

The Nonprofit Research Collaborative (NRC) conducts surveys three times a year. View prior NRC reports

This survey was conducted online in October 2011 about fundraising results from January through September 2011 compared with the same period in 2010, and about plans for 2012. The 875 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 by organizational size. There were no statistically significant differences when comparing organizational responses grouped by organizational mission (subsector) or region of the United States.

About the Nonprofit Research Collaborative (NRC)

Six organizations form the NRC. Each has, at a minimum, a decade of direct experience studying nonprofits' charitable receipts or fundraising practices. Partners are: Association of Fundraising Professionals; Blackbaud, Inc.; The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University; Giving USA Foundation; GuideStar USA, Inc.; and the National Center for Charitable Statistics at the Urban Institute.

Publication date: December 2011