Survey: Budget, Staffing Tip the Scales Toward Fundraising Success

Nearly three-quarters of the organizations surveyed by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative met their fundraising goal in 2014, the highest number in the survey’s history. Budget size and full-time fundraising staff made the difference for many groups.

We already know that charitable giving was up in 2014—donations totaled $16.2 billion in 2014, according to Blackbaud’s Charitable Giving Report. And the results of a new survey show that a majority of nonprofits and charities realized fundraising success as well.

Organizations that weren’t meeting their goal often said it was because there weren’t enough staff resources dedicated to doing the work of fundraising.

The Nonprofit Research Collaborative’s 2015 Nonprofit Fundraising Study [PDF] found that 73 percent of organizations met their fundraising goals in 2014, the best result since NRC began asking that question in 2010 and way up from the 63 percent that met their goal in 2013. Further, of the 1,550 groups surveyed, 63 percent said they saw an increase in their total fundraising receipts, the largest share since 2007.

Other key findings:

  • 71 percent of responding organizations said online contributions increased, up from 62 percent in 2013, the largest increase in six years.
  • 53 percent received more contributions through planned gifts, up from 42 percent in 2013 and double the total from 2010.
  • 70 percent anticipate an increase in charitable receipts in 2015.
  • While only 46 percent of the organizations said they used social media to fundraise, donations received through the medium increased by 79 percent for those who did use it.

Andrew Watt, president and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professions, a member of NRC, credited the strong growth in the nonprofit sector to the improved health of the broader economy.

“We’ve been seeing a slow and steady recovery since the end of the recession,” he said in a statement, “but with marked improvements in the stock market, household incomes, and consumer confidence in 2014, the slow recovery turned into dramatically increased giving.”

The study also looked into what factors contributed to an organization’s fundraising success. Two that stood out were budget size and full-time staff dedicated to carrying out the organization’s fundraising plan.

“We’ve found repeatedly that very small organizations—a foundation that doesn’t have more than $250,000 in expenditures in a given year—is likely not making the investment in fundraising required, and therefore is less likely to make fundraising goals,” said Melissa Brown, manager at NRC. “On the other side, organizations that weren’t meeting their goal often said it was because there weren’t enough staff resources dedicated to doing the work of fundraising.”

Some nonprofits reported meeting their goals with the help of volunteers, but that can’t be the norm, Brown said. “There’s a point at which, in order to be successful, an organization has to say, ‘Yes, we’ll make the investment in one full-time employee.’ It can’t be a part-time job, and it can’t be an all-volunteer effort. You can do those things, but you’ll struggle.”


Rob Stott

By Rob Stott

Rob Stott is a contributing editor for Associations Now. MORE

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