Chicago Nonprofits Report Better Than Expected Fundraising Results in 2001

Donations to September 11 relief and recovery efforts did not drastically reduce donations to Chicago-area nonprofits in 2001 as many had feared, the Chicago Tribune reports. But going forward, nonprofit organizations in the area are still faced with doing more with less as the economic slowdown increases the demand for a range of nonprofit services.

To the surprise of many, a surge in year-end donations helped some Chicago nonprofits meet their fundraising goals for the year, although many of those goals had been reduced after the terrorist attacks of September 11. One such organization was Deborah's Place, which serves homeless women and raised $70,000 during the holiday season, compared with $50,000 during the same period in 2000. "A lot of hopes hinged on us doing well during the holiday season and that did happen," said Mary Coy, chief development officer for the agency.

But even as donations remain steady, nonprofits are seeing demand for their services rise due to the recession and a wave of lay-offs. While officials of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago expect the agency's fundraising totals for 2001 to be about the same as they were in 2000, they also report that requests for services have tripled. As a result, the agency will be forced to scale back what it offers to clients in order to provide assistance to more people. Similarly, the city's Salvation Army branch, which expects a $300,000 to $400,000 shortfall in its $38 million budget, also plans to reduce services unless it receives several large donations in January, the final month of its annual fundraising campaign. "Obviously, we'll work with whatever we have," said Richard Grozik, the agency's director of communications. "But I think overall, given all that did take place, it could have been a lot worse."

"It's been a tough year, but we're still working," said Brian Hassett president of the United Way of Chicago, which reduced its annual fundraising goal by $2 million, to $95 million, after September 11. "I think from what my people are telling me here, our campaign is slightly off...which, given the circumstances, is not terrible."

According to Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy, Americans traditionally give about 3 percent of their income to charity each year and that should hold true for 2001. Moreover, Borochoff believes that the events of September 11 could help charities in the long run. About 60 percent of the public donated to the relief and recovery efforts, with many people contributing to nonprofits for the first time. "These are actually very positive developments," said Borochoff. "The philanthropic impulse has been heightened. Some will get into the habit of wanting to give."

Jon Yates. "For Charities, 2001 'Not Terrible'." Chicago Tribune 01/07/2002.