Charitable Contributions Continued to Rise in 2012, Survey Finds

Nearly six in ten charities in the United States and Canada reported an increase in fundraising revenues in 2012, while more than seven in ten expect to see revenues grow in 2013, a survey by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative finds.

Released earlier this week at the annual conference of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, the Nonprofit Fundraising Study: Covering Charitable Receipts at U.S. and Canadian Nonprofit Organizations in 2012 (42 pages, PDF) found that 58 percent of the 1,122 organizations which responded to the survey saw their fundraising receipts increase in 2012, compared with 53 percent in 2011 and 43 percent in 2010. The survey also found that 63 percent of respondents met their 2012 fundraising goal, up from 59 percent in 2011 and 52 percent in 2010. The percentage of organizations seeing an increase was nearly identical in the United States and Canada, across all four regions of the United States, and in most subsectors.

The survey also found that a majority of respondents (55 percent) attributed their fundraising success in 2012 to internal factors such as the addition of new staff (10 percent), a jump in receipts from bequests (6 percent), or a successful event (3 percent), while roughly 45 percent credited outside factors such as an improving economy, increased awareness, strong leadership, and/or a good development plan.

Looking ahead to 2013, 59 percent of respondents expect their fundraising receipts to be up by as much as 15 percent, 12 percent expect to see even greater increases, while 20 percent expect receipts to remain flat. The report also makes a number of fundraising recommendations, including developing comprehensive plans for engaging donors and potential donors, focusing on engagement strategies that lead to higher donor retention rates, and adapting to changing communication methods.

"Charities that routinely send thank-you letters to every donor were significantly more likely to meet their fundraising goal for 2012 than those that did not send a thank you at all," said Andrew Watt, president and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. "Surprisingly, 29 percent of charities did not routinely send thank-you letters or emails for contributions received. This basic principle of successful fundraising cannot be stressed enough."

"Funds Raised Increased at 58 Percent of US and Canadian Charities in 2012." Association of Fundraising Professionals Press Release 04/09/2013. "2012 Nonprofit Fundraising Study." Nonprofit Research Collaborative Report 04/09/2013.