Charitable Contributions Continued to Increase in 2015, Survey Finds

More than six in ten charities in the United States reported an increase in their fundraising revenue in 2015, while nearly seven in ten expect to see growth in 2016, a report from the Nonprofit Research Collaborative finds.

Based on a survey of nearly twelve hundred charities, the Nonprofit Fundraising Study: Covering Charitable Receipts at Nonprofit Organizations in the United States and Canada in 2015 (66 pages, PDF) found that 65 percent of respondents reported a year-over-year increase in fundraising revenue — up slightly from 63 percent in 2014 and 62 percent in 2013 — while 73 percent reported meeting the organization's fundraising goals. Factors respondents cited as affecting their 2015 fundraising results included unexpected gifts and bequests as well as "working smarter." The survey also found that the share of health organizations reporting higher revenues grew to 70 percent, up from 56 percent in 2014, while the share of arts organizations reporting higher revenue fell to 61 percent, from 70 percent.

Looking ahead to this year's results, 54 percent of respondents said they anticipated an increase of between 1 percent and 15 percent in fundraising revenue, while 15 percent projected growth of more than 15 percent. The survey also found that a greater share of charities than last year anticipated a decline in their fundraising receipts, with 14 percent anticipating a decrease of between 1 percent and 15 percent and 5 percent expecting a drop of more than 15 percent, compared with 11 percent and 3 percent, respectively. According to the report, the main concerns of fundraisers at the moment include economic headwinds, lack of support from leadership, and the perennial challenge of individual donor recruitment and retention. Many also expressed concerns about an aging donor pool.

Finally, although 84 percent of respondents reported an increase in contributions received through social media, and 79 percent of those receiving donations via text message saw an increase, those tools "should not be the main focus" of an organization's fundraising efforts, Keith Curtis, chair of the Giving USA Foundation, an NRC sponsor, told the Chronicle of Philanthropy. "It can help enhance what you're doing. It can help get your message out there....But most of those gifts aren't going to be your large gifts."

"Nonprofit Fundraising Study: Covering Charitable Receipts at Nonprofit Organizations in the United States and Canada in 2015." Nonprofit Research Collaborative Report 03/18/2016. Eden Stiffman. "70% of Charities Predict Revenue Increases." Chronicle of Philanthropy 03/20/2016.