Fewer Charities Saw Fundraising Revenue Boost in 2016, Study Finds

Three out of five U.S. nonprofit organizations saw an increase in fundraising revenue in 2016, while two-thirds expect to see additional growth in 2017, a report from the Nonprofit Research Collaborative finds.

Based on a survey of more than nine hundred charities, the Winter 2017 Nonprofit Fundraising Study: Covering Charitable Receipts at Nonprofit Organizations in the United States and Canada (56 pages, PDF) found that while seven in ten U.S. respondents met their fundraising goals in 2016, only six out of ten (61 percent) reported year-over-year increases in revenue — down from 65 percent in 2015, the first decline registered by the survey since 2013. Of the U.S. charities surveyed, 24 percent reported a decrease in donations during the 2016 election campaign, with 20 percent seeing a dropoff after the election, while 15 percent reported an increase in donations during the campaign and 17 percent registering a post-election increase. Among respondents reporting lower receipts during the campaign, 82 percent said major donors cut back on their support in order to give to a political candidate or in support of an election issue. Among those reporting higher receipts, 68 percent said major donors gave more because they saw the organization's mission as being threatened or compromised by a candidate or campaign.

In terms of issue areas, 67 percent of human services organizations reported an increase in fundraising revenue in 2016, followed by religious groups (64 percent), K-12 education (64 percent), and health (63 percent) nonprofits, while those focused on public-society benefit (29 percent) and higher education (52 percent) were the least likely to see increases.

Looking ahead to this year's results, 66 percent of U.S. respondents said they think their revenues will be up in 2017 — including 54 percent that anticipate increases of between 1 percent and 15 percent and 12 percent anticipating increases of more than 15 percent. At the same time, 46 percent of respondents expressed concern about marcoeconomic and political changes that could affect charitable giving; 34 percent expressed concern about their organizational leadership, marketing, and staffing; and 20 percent singled out challenges associated with building capacity for securing major gifts, acquiring new donors, and/or using online technologies effectively.

"Winter 2017 Nonprofit Fundraising Study." Nonprofit Research Collaborative Report 05/01/2017.