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2010 Fundraising Survey Results: The Worst May Be Over

Change in contributions, 2002-2010In October 2010, GuideStar joined forces with the National Center for Charitable Statistics (NCCS), the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, Blackbaud, and the Foundation Center to create the National Research Collaborative and conduct an end-of-year fundraising survey. Representatives of 2,356 public charities and 163 private foundations took the survey online between October 19 and November 3, 2010.

The results are encouraging: The proportion of participants reporting decreased contributions dropped 14 percent, from 51 percent in October 2009 to 37 percent in October 2010. The percentage who said contributions had increased grew 13 percent, from 23 percent in October 2009 to 36 percent in October 2010. These figures may herald the beginning of an economic recovery in the nonprofit sector, although only time will tell if the trend will continue. For the first time in two years, however, there's cause for cautious optimism about the sector and the economy.

Other highlights from the 2010 fundraising survey:

  • Larger organizations, those with annual expenses of $1 million or greater, were more likely to report increased contributions.
  • As has been true in previous years, respondents who reported decreased contributions cited "Fewer individuals gave" and "Gifts from individuals were smaller" as the primary reasons for the decline.
  • For the eighth consecutive year, a majority (68 percent) of participants reported increased demand for their organizations' services.
  • Half of the organizations represented in the survey receive the bulk of contributions during the last quarter of the year, the period known as the giving season. Of this number, 36 percent predict that contributions received during the fourth quarter of 2010 will exceed those from the last quarter of 2009, 43 percent expect end-of-year contributions to be about the same as last year, and 22 percent anticipate that end-of-year contributions will be lower.
  • Nearly half (47 percent) of participants expect their organizations' budgets to increase next year.

The survey report contains additional analysis, including breakdowns by mission category, and numerous charts and graphs. Download a free copy of the report