Fundraising Environment for America's Largest Charities Still Challenging, Survey Finds

The nation's most successful fundraising organizations anticipate that giving will decline this year by a median of 9 percent, and the outlook for 2010 remains gloomy, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reports. The projected drop in giving is the steepest since the publication launched its survey seventeen years ago.

According to the publication's annual Philanthropy 400 survey, donations to the largest U.S. organizations in 2008 increased by 1 percent year-over-year, to $76.2 billion, when adjusted for inflation. Over the same period, according to the Giving USA Foundation, charitable giving dropped by 5.7 percent, with the nation's largest organizations faring better than smaller charities.

While nonprofit officials are hopeful that the rebound in equity indices since March will prompt donors to increase their giving, they remain concerned that foundations and corporations might cut back further. For the most part, organizations are approaching their 2010 budgets conservatively, with many projecting growth of 2 percent or less.

Indeed, many charities are reorganizing their fundraising departments, though some of the changes have been driven by layoffs. According to the Chronicle, charities are encouraging development staff to share responsibilities and work more closely with people in different departments.

"These are the most successful charities," Chronicle editor Stacy Palmer told the Boston Globe. "If they are going to see a decline of 9 percent, the smaller, scrappier charities that don't have all that going for them are going to [have] a much harder time."

Beth Healy. "Big Nonprofits Predict 9 Percent Drop in Donations." Boston Globe 10/26/2009. Noelle Barton. "America's Top Charities Face Tough Fundraising Year." Chronicle of Philanthropy 10/29/2009.