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Two-Thirds of Surveyed Charities Report Fundraising Results Held Steady or Improved in 2010

Nonprofits That Invested in Fundraising Staff, Resources Were More Likely to See Increases


Michael Nilsen, Assn. of Fundraising Professionals
(425) 890-6628;

 Simona Combi, Urban Institute
(202) 261-5709,

(Chicago, Ill. - March 22, 2011) A majority of charities surveyed saw their fundraising revenue remain stable or increase last year, according to the 2010 Year-End Survey of the Nonprofit Research Collaborative (NRC), a coalition of six fundraising and philanthropic organizations. The survey also showed that strong fundraising results were more likely when organizations invested resources in fundraising staff and infrastructure, including volunteer management. 

The study asked about two key measures of fundraising-the percentage of organizations reaching their fundraising goals and the percentage of charities raising more funds in one year compared to the previous year. In the NRC survey about 2010, just 52 percent of organizations reported reaching their fundraising goals that year. In a survey conducted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP, a member of the NRC) about 2009, 53 percent of charities reported meeting their yearly fundraising goals that year.

In addition, the percentage of organizations raising more money in 2010 compared to 2009 was 43 percent, the same percentage found in the previous survey when respondents were asked if they raised more money in 2009 compared to 2008.

The significant shift was in the percentage of organizations raising about the same amount of money in 2010 compared to 2009. Twenty-four percent saw stable amounts of giving in 2010, compared to just 11 percent at the end of the year in 2009. At the same time, the percentage of respondents raising fewer funds dropped from year-end 2009 (46 percent) to year-end 2010 (33 percent).

"While many organizations stopped the bleeding, giving simply didn't rebound like we thought it might, especially given the economic growth we saw in the last quarter of the year," said Paulette V. Maehara (CFRE, CAE), president and CEO of AFP. "Despite the unexpectedly flat fundraising results that charities reported, the survey showed that success was more likely when organizations invested resources in fundraising staff and infrastructure, including volunteer management."

The survey also showed that no single type of fundraising was more important than any other in determining overall success toward goal. On average, charities used 6 of 10 listed fundraising approaches, indicating that nonprofits typically employ a mix of methods for communicating their mission and seeking support. Participants could respond about vehicles used to ask for comparatively small gifts (mail, e-mail, special events, payroll deductions, online approaches, and more), for major gifts, and for support from institutions such as foundations and corporations.

"Whatever their size, organizations were much less likely to have a successful 2010 when fundraising staffing or financial investment in fundraising efforts declined," said Thomas Pollak, director of NRC member the National Center for Charitable Statistics. "Earlier work shows that volunteers can be an important and cost-effective way to raise funds."

As has been the case in past years, survey participants were highly likely to see growth in online giving. "Online giving showed growth in 2010, with online results increasing at 58 percent of the organizations that employed it last year," said Chuck Longfield, senior vice president and chief scientist at Blackbaud, a member of the NRC. "However, online contributions form a comparatively low percentage-less than 10 percent typically-of all funds raised at a given charity."

The full report is available at no charge at It includes analysis of the major questions about fundraising in 2010 by size of organization, type of charity (subsector), tactics or fundraising vehicle used, and share of contributions received from different donor types (individuals, foundations, corporations, bequests, and other charities). 

The collaborating partners to date are:

  • Association of Fundraising Professionals, which surveyed members for an annual state of fundraising study;
  • Blackbaud, Inc., which publishes the Blackbaud Index and prepares the report State of the Nonprofit Industry;
  • The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, which conducts a wide range of research studies on philanthropy and giving;
  • The Foundation Center, which provides services to nonprofit organizations and documents trends in foundation giving worldwide;
  • GuideStar USA, Inc., which has issued annual reports about the impact of the economy on the nonprofit sector since 2002; and
  • The National Center for Charitable Statistics at the Urban Institute, which tracks the finances and activities of nonprofit organizations and prepares the Nonprofit Almanac and other publications and resources.
Click here for more coverage of the NRC study in USA Today

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