While most nonprofit fundraisers are hopeful about the charitable giving climate, human services organizations are less optimistic, the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University reports in the latest edition of its Philanthropic Giving Index (PGI).
The PGI surveys development executives and fundraising consultants representing a broad range of nonprofits and charts their responses on a scale of 1-100, similar to an index of consumer confidence. The overall December PGI was 89.7, which was approximately 1 percent lower than the summer 2004 PGI but above the figure from last year and nearly at the level seen before September 11, 2001. The survey found that approximately 41 percent of respondents currently believe the economy is having a positive or very positive impact on fundraising. That is down from the 45 percent reported in the summer but higher than the 31.4 percent who expressed the same opinion a year ago.
"Nonprofit fundraisers in general are still confident that the charitable giving climate is strong," said Eugene R. Tempel, the center's executive director. "However, human services organizations are not experiencing the same level of confidence as the other organizations."
The PGI for human services organizations, 77.6, was 12.1 points lower than the overall PGI — the greatest difference between the two indexes in the survey's six-year history. The next highest difference between the two indexes (9.3 points) occurred in December 2000, another presidential election year.
When fundraisers were asked whether political fundraising in this election year "crowded out" charitable donations to nonprofits, most disagreed. Human services organization fundraisers, however, were more likely than their peers to say political fundraising had some effect on nonprofits.
"We would have expected the PGI to increase this time because of the recent economic conditions," said Patrick M. Rooney, the center's director of research. "However, the uncertainty over the election and the unevenness of the economic recovery seems to have made fundraisers a little more 'bearish' about their perceptions of the fundraising than they were in the summer."
To read or download the report (13 pages, PDF), visit: http://philanthropy.iupui.edu/PGI-Dec2004.pdf.