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Many Charities Behind on Their Fundraising This Holiday Season, but Still Optimistic

(Arlington, Va.) Less than half of charities across North America are raising more money during the 2007 holiday giving season (defined as October through December) than they did last year, according to a survey by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).

AFP’s 2007 Holiday Giving Survey found that just 48.3 percent of charities are raising more money during the last quarter of 2007 (as of Dec. 10) compared to the same period in 2006. Approximately a quarter (25.4 percent) have raised about the same amount, and 26.3 percent have raised less.

In general, larger organizations are faring better than smaller charities. Two-thirds of organizations with budgets greater than $50 million have raised more money during the last quarter of 2007 than in 2006, as are more than half (52.4 percent) of charities with budgets between $10 million and $50 million. In contrast, only about one-third (32.7 percent) of organizations with budgets smaller than $500,000 have raised more money during the last quarter of 2007 then they did during the same period in 2006.

“While charities have been dealing with an uneven economy for several years now, the timing of the housing slump and credit crisis and their impact on the stock market and public confidence could not have a come at a worse time,” said Paulette V. Maehara, CFRE, CAE, president and CEO of AFP. “The holiday season is an important fundraising period for many organizations, so donor concerns about the economy are critical. Fundraising levels are not at the low levels they were in 2002 or 2003, but there are clearly many organizations that are negatively affected at this point.”

For most charities, the last three months of the year are crucial for their fundraising. According to the survey, more than 40 percent of charities raise on average between one-third and one-half of their annual contributions during the last quarter of the year, and almost 3 in ten charities raise more than 50 percent of their annual contributions during that time. Nearly 2 in ten respondents receive more than 40 percent of their annual contributions in the month of December alone.

Despite disappointing results so far in the last quarter of 2007, most charities are still very optimistic about the rest of the year. Two-thirds believe their fundraising results will improve during the remainder of December, while one-fourth of respondents predict their numbers will remain about the same. Only 7.6 percent believe their fundraising results will get worse before the end of the year.

In addition, a majority (56.1 percent) believe that by the end of the year, their fourth quarter fundraising totals for 2007 will exceed their totals from the fourth quarter of 2006. Almost 20 percent believe their totals will be about the same, and a quarter think their totals will be less.

The survey also asked respondents to forecast their overall fundraising totals in 2007 and compare them to total fundraising results in 2006. More than 6 in ten (62.3 percent) believe they will raise more funds in 2007 than in 2006, with 21.8 percent predicting they will raise less funds, and 15.9 percent forecasting about the same amount.

“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 2007 AFP Holiday Giving Survey was based on 354 responses to an online survey conducted Dec. 10-18, 2007.  

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