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Charity Fundraising Efforts Lagging Significantly This Holiday Season

(Dec. 19, 2008) More than half of charities across North America are raising less money during the 2008 holiday giving season (October through December) than they did last year, according to a survey conducted by AFP.

AFP’s 2008 Holiday Giving Survey found that 53.3 percent of charities responding to the survey are raising less money during the last quarter of 2008 compared to the same period in 2007. Just 22.7 percent are raising more money, and 23.9 percent are raising about the same amount.

These figures are in stark contrast to the 2007 survey, when 48.3 percent of organizations were raising more money than the previous year and 26.3 percent were raising less.

“The survey underscores the extraordinary difficulties that charities face in a fundraising environment that is more challenging than anything we’ve seen in recent history,” said Paulette V. Maehara, CFRE, CAE, president and CEO of AFP. “Last year, despite the beginning of the housing crisis, many charities still managed to raise more money. This year, we’ve seen the numbers flip-flop, with a majority of charities lagging behind in their fundraising when compared to last year. Even those organizations that are raising about the same amount face significant hurdles because of the increased needs of people hit hard by the economic recession.”

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 (48.1 percent) of charities receive between 31 - 60 percent of their overall annual contributions between October and December. In addition, 17.9 percent of charities receive more 60 percent of their annual gifts during this time.

Fundraisers were slightly more optimistic when asked what they estimated their organization’s year-end giving totals would be. Just over three in ten respondents (30.5 percent) believe their organizations will raise more money in 2008 than in 2007, while 44.9 percent believe they will raise less and 24.6 percent believe they will raise about the same amount.

However, even if these figures hold out, they will represent by far the worst fundraising year for charities this decade. In 2002, AFP’s State of Fundraising Survey found that 49 percent of charities raised more money than in the previous year, the lowest percentage so far this decade.

“We need to be cautious in predicting 2008 overall giving, as last year we saw a strong surge in contributions during the month of December,” Maehara said. “However, given the economic troubles that have occurred throughout the year, many charities face tremendous obstacles in raising the money they need to provide critically needed programs and services. I encourage everyone to think of others during this giving season and support organizations that are making a difference in their communities.”

The 2008 Holiday Giving Survey was based on 347 responses to an online survey conducted Dec. 1-8, 2008.

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