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Overall Giving Returns to Pre-Recession Levels, Study Finds

(Jan. 17, 2012) Total giving for the first 11 months of 2011 is 1.4 percent ahead of the same period in 2007, according to Blackbaud.

Nonprofits are not out of the woods yet, however, as Chuck Longfield, Blackbaud’s chief scientist noted that while giving is up, the increase is not uniform across all sub-sectors. Yet, most nonprofits saw greater stability and predictability in their 2011 fundraising than in the past few years.

“Fundraising remains challenging but hopefully the worst is behind us, and nonprofits will continue to see positive growth in 2012,” said Longfield.

The Blackbaud Index of Charitable Giving reports that overall charitable revenue grew 1.4 percent for the three months ending November 2011, as compared to the same period in 2010. This trend is based on $2.5 billion in 12 months’ revenue from 1,281 nonprofit organizations.

Blackbaud’s index of online giving reports that online revenue increased by 12 percent for the three months ending November 2011, as compared to the same period in 2010. This trend is based on $383 million in 12 months’ online revenue from 1,769 organizations.

Giving By Subsector

Environmental and Animal Welfare organizations did not see growth in the latter part of 2011, the index reports, showing giving is down 5.4 percent in a three month average ending in November compared to the same period in 2010. The same is true for international affairs organizations in the study, which saw a drop-off in giving revenue in the three month span ending in November 2011 compared to the same span of time in 2010.

However, several subsectors are showing revenue growth. Particularly arts and cultural organizations, healthcare organizations and those serving public and society benefit.

Stay Fresh, Stay Focused

AFP President and CEO Andrew Watt, FInstF, offered commentary in the Blackbaud report, urging organizations to challenge the status quo in order to break out of an overall flat trajectory in the overall growth of giving.

“Organizations are recognizing that they need to change to grow and a lot of fundraisers are taking advantage of the position they are in to push for change,” said Watt. “I always see crisis as being exciting—you need to be jolted out of your comfort zone from time to time. It’s an exciting time to be in the profession as we’re in completely uncharted territory.”

Watt says nonprofits need to stay on their toes and up with current trends, all the while not losing track of the fact that understanding donor motivations is more important than the medium used to communicate with them.

“It is essential to get closer to donors, understand their motivation, and give them opportunities to engage in the way they choose to.”

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