Report: Nonprofit Fundraising Stays Strong, But Growth Slows Slightly

In a recent survey, the Nonprofit Research Collaborative found that the number of nonprofits reporting an increase in donations dipped slightly in 2016. Some organizations said the 2016 election had a negative impact on receipts.

Fundraising is still growing for many charitable nonprofits—just not for as many as before.

That’s the key finding of a new report from Nonprofit Research Collaborative (NRC), whose Winter 2017 Nonprofit Fundraising Study revealed that 61 percent of its survey respondents saw an increase in charitable receipts in 2016—a drop from 2015, when 65 percent reported growth.

The survey results are based on responses from representatives of 941 organizations. Among those, 68 percent met their fundraising goals last year, a drop of 5 percent from both 2015 and 2014, but well above the 59 percent seen in 2013.

The report shows relative consistency among different organization sizes, regions, and industry subsections, which NRC officials said was unusual in comments to The NonProfit Times. Aggie Sweeney, chair of the Giving USA Foundation, a partner of NRC, noted that geographical differences in particular had tended to be more pronounced in prior years.

Other takeaways from the study:

Politics played a role. Almost four in 10 survey respondents said the 2016 campaign had an effect on their fundraising: 24 percent said the campaign caused a decrease in donations, compared to 15 percent who said they saw an increase. The situation changed only modestly after the election, with 20 percent reporting a decrease and 17 percent reporting an increase in November and December. Some respondents blamed the decline on the large amount of competing messaging in the market.

A multichannel strategy succeeds. The report makes the case for multichannel fundraising—approaching potential donors using multiple communications strategies, a method backed by other nonprofit research firms. “This study supports those earlier findings by showing stable rates of increase for direct mail and special events, in a period during which other methods—such as major gifts and board giving—showed a slowed rate of growth,” the report states.


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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