“Economy grew…sales improved…spending picked up…economic activity expanded…manufacturing activity grew.” Growth is happening in all areas of the U.S. economy according to the 12 Federal Reserve district banks. Recent reports say that job growth and unemployment levels are at lowest levels in six years. All encouraging news.
Are we seeing improvement for non-profits? As I troll the internet looking for signs of recovery it would appear that individuals are finding a little more in their pocket books. Research reports I read say that non-profits are finding their fundraising efforts are at least holding steady if not improving. Very few report fundraising down and if they do it usually is slight.
From the experience of colleagues I talk with in the Seattle area it seems that renewing donors have tried hard to at least maintain their giving level during this period. If they have to reduce the amount they contribute they do still value the work of their favorite charities and make a commitment, even if it is not at the level of support they would prefer. But this has not been a time to acquire new donors.
One special event I have followed very closely started out six years ago with exponential growth year over year for the first three years, then experienced a decrease in revenue for two years. Donors who were giving the requested $150 at the breakfast fundraiser, were giving $100 and those at the $1,000 level reduced their contribution to $500. The number of attendees remained flat.
This year, although the number of guests was the same as the previous year, the results approached the amount raised from the 3rd year. Those donors who had reduced their gifts were back up to $150 and the number of $1,000 donors increased.
Foundations and corporations are still saying they have far more requests then they can handle and grants are usually for less than requested. Highly dependent on investments for income, they are finding the amount of money available for granting programs reduced. It also appears that most foundations are sticking with non-profits they know and have supported in the past. Very few dollars are available for new applicants.
Although my observations are antidotal and based on my reading of the landscape, I’d appreciate hearing from readers of this blog about their own experiences. Have donors to your non-profit remained loyal while reducing their average gift or have they gone away entirely? Have you found it difficult to secure new donors? Have gifts from foundations and corporations been down? Are you experiencing a recovery? And please, when you are responding, tell us in what region of the country you raise funds and the mission focus of your non-profit.