LISTEN UP, GAMBLERS
Fundraising in the public interest touches upon every aspect of development: Organizational development, annual giving, special events, donor cultivation and communications, grant writing and foundation fundraising, with a special emphasis on major gift solicitation and initiatives that increase gift levels and donor participation, from Kathy Miller's 20+ years of development experience.
Fall is that time when we clean up the yard, put the garden to sleep, and take stock of the coming winter. In the fundraising world, fall is for reviewing results to date and raking up the leaves of various fundraising programs. To help us out, Target Analytics, which reports on direct mail giving, including web acquisition, but not individual gifts over $10,000, released its “Q2 2011 Index of National Fundraising Performance” findings. This report includes results through June 2011 based on analysis of actual donor transactions. It does not include university or hospital responses, but it does have the nonprofit organizations that I know do direct mail well, in a big way: Morris Dees’ Southern Poverty Law Center, the American Civil Liberties Union, NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and Anti-Defamation League. In a nutshell, even though donors are giving larger gifts, that isn’t balancing out revenue losses from fewer donors.
Only 43 percent of the organizations in the Index had year-over-year revenue increases in the first half of 2011. While revenue declined only slightly, donor numbers dropped noticeably. Index donors declined a median 4.2 percent from the second quarter 2010 to second quarter 2011. Only 31 percent of the organizations in the Index had year-over-year donor increases in the first half of 2011.
This continues a trend that predates the recession. Direct mail donor populations have been shrinking for the past five years, primarily due to declines in new donor acquisition. Falling donor populations may be due to a mix of factors: The recession, aging population of givers, shifting attitudes of donors about giving, and a change in focus by fundraisers toward high dollar donors.
Giving USA Foundation indicates that once a recession is over, it has taken an average of three to four years for inflation-adjusted charitable giving to rise back up to pre-recession levels. This recession, which is a doozy, wasn’t considered “over” by the economists until June, 2009.
Does this information help you determine your 2012 budget? Plan your 2012 fundraising calendar?
Kelly Kleiman, respected fundraising consultant and theater critic, caused a bit of a stir this week with a piece she wrote for the Stanford Social Innovation Review blog about another smarty pants group of for-profit executives running to the rescue of not-for-profit management.