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AFP 2009 State of Fundraising Survey: Charitable Fundraising Takes Another Hit

(Baltimore, Md.) Just 43 percent of charities raised more money in 2009 than in 2008, marking it the worst year for charitable fundraising in a decade, according to the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) 2009 State of Fundraising Survey, released at AFP's 47th International Conference on Fundraising in Baltimore, Md.

Get a PDF Factsheet for the 2009 State of Fundraising Survey
Canadian 2009 State of Fundraising Survey Factsheet: English | French

AFP's ninth annual State of Fundraising Survey asked charities to compare their fundraising totals in 2009 to their figures in 2008. In a typical survey, about 60 percent of respondents raise more money in one year compared to the previous year. Last year, in the 2008 survey, 46 percent raised more money than in 2007. The 2009 survey shows the economy still having a dramatic effect on fundraising, with just 43 percent raising more money in 2009 compared to 2008, 46 percent raising less money and 11 percent raising about the same.

"These figures represent a low mark in fundraising over the past 10 years and quite possibly since the 1980s," said Paulette V. Maehara, CFRE, CAE, president and CEO of AFP. "We've never seen so many organizations raise such few funds. This is as challenging a fundraising environment as most charities have ever seen, even worse than after the events of Sept. 11, 2001."

Organizations that did see fundraising growth typically experienced very modest increases. Of the 43 percent of organizations that raised more money in 2009, more than two-thirds (68 percent) saw increases of 20 percent or less. In comparison, just three years ago, almost one quarter of respondents indicated fundraising growth of 50 percent or more.

Fundraising decreases were seen across the board, regardless of cause, size or geography. In addition, almost every fundraising technique measured in the survey (direct mail, telemarketing, major gifts, planned giving, online fundraising, special events and corporate/foundation grants) was either flat or saw decreases in terms of performance in 2009 compared to 2008. Special event fundraising has been hit especially hard. In the current survey, just 33 percent of respondents raised more money in 2009 compared to 2008 through special events. Just three years ago, 74 percent of respondents raised more money through special events.

Despite the decreases, fundraisers are increasingly optimistic about their fundraising prospects in 2010. More than 60 percent believe they will raise more money in 2010 than in 2009, a significant increase from last year, when just 28 percent estimated they would raise more money in 2009 than in 2008. "There is a real sea change in how fundraisers are viewing the fundraising landscape," said Maehara. "There's a sense that we've seen the worst and that while 2010 may not be an extraordinary year for fundraising, it will be a year of solid growth."

In terms of strategy for 2010, a large percentage of organizations will be increasing their activities in major gifts, planned gifts, online solicitations and corporate and foundation grants. These activities are typically less expensive and/or focus on existing donors who already have strong connections to a charity. Direct mail and telemarketing efforts will remain about the same, and just one-third indicated they would focus on special events, which are typically more expensive and typically are used to attract new donors.

 "Despite the tough times, we have to remember that a majority of charities still managed to raise the same amount or more funds in 2009 than they did in 2008," said Maehara. "We've learned lessons from Sept. 11 and from 2008, and I think many charities were ready for the challenges of 2009. Now many organizations have positioned themselves for a strong year, and I think we'll see much improved fundraising results over the next nine months. AFP is committed to helping charities find success in these difficult times and stands ready with a host of resources and programs to strengthen fundraising programs."

Get a PDF Factsheet for the 2009 State of Fundraising Survey
Canadian 2009 State of Fundraising Survey Factsheet: English | French


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