Survey: Charitable Giving Saw Strong Gains in 2013

Fundraising was up across the board in 2013 in the U.S. and Canada, according to the Nonprofit Research Collaborative’s Year-End Fundraising Survey—but did it come at the cost of volunteerism?

If you needed any more assurance that the economy is well on its way to better health, look no further than the latest data from the Nonprofit Research Collaborative’s (NRC) Year-End 2013 Fundraising Survey, released at the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ (AFP) International Conference on Fundraising last weekend.

According to NRC, 62 percent of the 500 charities surveyed said they raised more funds in 2013 than they did in 2012, the highest total since 2007 and a 4 percent gain over the previous year. And 67 percent said they met their fundraising goals—also the highest total since before the Great Recession.

“These are very good numbers and represent a trend we’ve see over the past few years with giving growing slowly but surely,” AFP President and CEO Andrew Watt said in a statement. “The real positive is that charities reported strong growth in a variety of different fundraising approaches, including major gifts, special events, and online giving. Those are very good indicators of a stronger economy and donors being more confident in their economic situation and ability to give.”

Based on the strength of the survey results, NRC said it believes nonprofits are in for another good year of fundraising in 2014.

“We knew that the economy was getting better, but we hadn’t been able to really quantify it until we saw these charitable giving results,” said Melissa Brown, project manager for NRC. “Of course, everything depends on the economy, so we all hope and pray that it continues to be strong with more people back to work, because that’s good for the country and that’s good for charity.”

NRC’s findings come on the heels of a Bureau of Labor Statistics report that showed volunteering numbers were down in 2013. While a direct connection can’t be made, Brown said, several factors could be in play.

“During the recession, some people were volunteering as a way to help them keep their professional skills sharp while they were out on the job market,” she said. “Now they’re working—thank goodness—so they don’t have as much time to give, and they start to replace the time by giving money.”

Brown also pointed to a demographic shift where older generations are becoming less active in volunteering, but the younger people who would normally replace those lost hours are already stretched thin.

“You think of the kids who were in dance lessons and trombone lessons and taking extra science classes—they might be the people that nonprofit organizations would normally turn to when Mother’s no longer available, but a lot of people in the lower age groups, they’re already over-scheduled and well into their careers,” she said.

The shift from volunteering to donating isn’t cause for concern yet, said Brown. “For one year it’s just a blip—that doesn’t bother me at all. If we see it for three years, then I start to wonder what the longer-term implications might be, but we won’t know for a while.”


Rob Stott

By Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. MORE

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