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Charitable Giving Stabilizes as Recession Ebbs

(RNS) Charities are seeing improvements in fundraising, with fewer charities reporting declines in 2010 compared with 2009, according to a report released Tuesday (March 22).

But a larger percentage of organizations reported bringing in about the same amount of revenue both years, says the report by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative, a coalition of six organizations that focus on philanthropy.

Just over half (52 percent) said they met fundraising goals, about the same (53 percent) as in a similar 2009 survey conducted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, a member of the collaborative.

“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,” says Paulette Maehara, CEO of the fundraising association.

The findings are based on responses from 1,616 charities to an online survey conducted in February. Among specifics:

  • 67 percent said they raised more money (43 percent) or the same amount (24 percent) in 2010 as they did in 2009. That’s up from 54 percent in 2009. But it’s well below the “boom years” from 2005 to 2007, when as many as 69 percent of organizations reported receiving more than the previous year.
  • Giving was consistent across all types of charities, including arts, education, health and religion. International organizations were most likely to report growth in giving, but the survey notes that the pool of respondents was small, “so it is very difficult to use this result to generalize.”
  • No single type of fundraising was most effective, but groups that have ramped up opportunities for online giving are seeing a payoff.

Nearly 75 percent of the groups reported online or Internet fundraising.

Among organizations that offered such opportunities, 58 percent saw an increase in giving.

The report notes that online giving is still a relatively small source of revenue; a survey released last month by collaborative member Blackbaud Inc. found that at most, online giving accounts for less than 10 percent of total contributions received.

“It does take some time for organizations to make the investment in online fundraising and to learn how best to integrate that” into their fundraising strategy, says Una Osili, director of research at the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, a collaborative member.

Some charitable groups are turning to even more electronic ways to make contributions. The American Red Cross, for example, raised $32 million in donations via text messages after a magnitude-7.0 earthquake struck Haiti last year.

“It takes less time to click,” Red Cross spokesman Roger Lowe said. “You feel like you’ve made a difference immediately.”

(Mary Beth Marklein writes for USA Today.)



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