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AFP Holiday Giving Survey Shows Giving Still Lagging, But Optimism Rising Among Charitable Fundraisers

December 15, 2009

About one-third of charities are raising more funds so far during the 2009 holiday season compared to the same time period in 2008, according to the Holiday Giving Survey by AFP.

These giving figures are better than they were in last year's survey, and optimism for the rest of the year and 2010 is much stronger.

Just 34 percent of charities are raising more money so far during this holiday season, defined as the last three months of the year (with 25 percent raising "slightly" more funds, and 9 percent raising "significantly" more funds), compared to the holiday season of 2008 when only 23 percent were raising more money.

In contrast, 38 percent are raising fewer funds (with 27 percent raising "slightly" fewer and 11 percent raising "significantly" fewer funds). About 28 percent of charities are raising about the same amount of funds as compared to last year. In 2008, 53 percent were raising less money and 24 percent were raising about the same.

"Make no mistake-despite the improvement in the fundraising environment from 2008, this year has been very difficult and challenging for most charities," said Paulette V. Maehara, CFRE, CAE. "However, we are seeing slow increases in giving over the course of this year, especially during the past six months. And perhaps the best news is the return of a strong sense of optimism among fundraisers, signaling that we will see even more giving in 2010 and beyond."

Fundraisers are split on whether they believe their organizations will see higher overall fundraising results in 2009 compared to last year. Forty percent of respondents believe their annual fundraising totals in 2009 will be greater than their totals in 2008, while the same amount said their annual results will be lower. Approximately 20 percent said their annual figures would be about the same.

These figures show a slight uptick in optimism from the 2008 survey, where just 31 percent said their annual fundraising totals would be higher that year than compared to 2007.

Even stronger optimism lies in fundraisers' expectations for 2010, with 59 percent expecting their organizations to raise more funds in 2010 than in 2009-the highest level of optimism among fundraisers in two years. About a third (34 percent) expect to raise the same amount, and just 7 percent believe they will raise less.

The last quarter of the year is a critical period for fundraising as most charities receive a significant amount of contributions during this time. According to the survey, almost half (46 percent) of charities receive between 30 - 60 percent of their overall annual contributions between October and December. In addition, 21 percent of charities receive more than 60 percent of their annual gifts during this time.

"Giving during the last quarter of the year has a tremendous impact on most charities and their capacity to provide important services and programs in the coming year," Maehara said. "It's critical that people support the charities of their choice so that these organizations can continue to help people in need."

The 2009 AFP Holiday Giving Survey was based on 291 responses to an online survey conducted Dec. 7-11, 2009.

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