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Improving Economy Strengthens Fundraisers Attitudes

September 13, 2004

(Sept. 13, 2004) The economy is improving, and the result is a boost in fundraisers' attitudes about charitable giving, according to a new survey by the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.

According to the Center's Philanthropic Giving Index (PGI), fundraisers' attitudes towards charitable giving have increased by almost 40 percent since 2003. Conducted in May, the survey's Present Situation Index, which assesses the current fundraising climate, showed a 38.7 percent increase from one year ago - almost at the same level seen prior to Sept. 11, 2001.

The survey also found that the PGI for 2004 was 90.6 percent, up 25.3 percent since the summer 2003 survey and at the highest since Sept. 11, 2001.

This comes as good news for fundraisers who have faced decreased giving in recent years, said Eugene R. Tempel, CFRE, executive director of the Center. 'Overall, we are seeing a return to fundraising normalcy, which seems to be enhanced by a good economy,' he said.

Such good news, in fact, that 62 percent of the respondents expect the economy to have a positive impact on fundraising in the next six months, up from 36 percent in the summer of 2003.

Fundraisers in arts, culture and humanities organizations were more optimistic overall than fundraisers from other types of organizations. However, a majority of respondents, 45 percent, believe that the economy is having a positive or very positive impact on fundraising. In contrast, only 31 percent of fundraiser felt that way in December of 2003, and only seven percent believed that one year ago.

According to Patrick M. Rooney, director of research at the Center on Philanthropy, the improved economy, positive changes in the stock market and personal income have all contributed to an increase in optimistic attitudes.

The PGI, which is similar to a Consumer Confidence Index for charitable giving, includes three indexes on a scale from 0 to 100:

  • the Present Situation Index, which measures the current giving environment,
  • the Expectations Index, which asses the climate for the next six months, and
  • the overall PGI which is an average of the current and future climates.

The survey also found that while organizations perceive a decrease in planned giving, they have seen improvements with email and Internet fundraising. However, the respondents agreed that these methods are the least successful of all techniques.

Overall, 410 surveys were mailed to development executives of nonprofit organizations and 40 fundraising consultants. Of those, 177 fundraisers and 26 consultants responded to the survey.

The full report (PDF format; 12 pages) from the survey is available at the Center for Philanthropy's website.


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