A majority of nonprofits (54 percent) raised more money in 2018 than they did in 2017, while slightly more than a quarter (28 percent) raised about the same, an annual year-end survey by the Association of Fundraising Professionals finds.
According to AFP's 2018 Year-End Fundraising Survey, only 18 percent of nonprofits reported a decline in revenues in 2018, while 78 percent of respondents said they raised the same or more in the fourth quarter of 2018 compared to the fourth quarter of 2017.
Respondents to the survey were mixed on their feelings about the impact of the economy on their fundraising, with more than a third (36 percent) saying it had a positive impact on their fundraising, while a similar percentage (35 percent) indicated it had very little or no impact and a smaller percentage (29 percent) saying it negatively impacted their development efforts. In addition, many respondents reported receiving gifts from fewer donors in 2018, but with those who gave typically giving more. "We received distinctly fewer gifts in December compared to normal," said one respondent said. "This may be the combined effect of the tax changes and the stock market/economic news in December. The growth we achieved was mainly due to our launch of a new initiative."
The survey also asked about the impact of the comprehensive tax reform signed into law in December 2017, which, among other things, doubled the amount of the standard deduction. Approximately 54 percent of respondents said the tax changes had little or no impact on their fundraising, with 37 percent saying the changes had a negative impact and 9 percent saying the changes had a positive impact. A large majority (73 percent) of respondents also reported that very few or no donors expressed confusion or uncertainty about the tax changes, while 81 percent indicated that very few or no donors said they planned to delay their gift until 2019 or use a technique like gift "bundling" to maximize the benefit of the itemized charitable deduction.
"There's still a lot to unpack regarding 2018 fundraising trends. With the impact of the economy, tax law changes, and many variables beyond what was covered in this survey, the use of donor-advised funds is also expanding exponentially, while the total number of people making philanthropic gifts continues to decline," said AFP board chair Martha Schumacher. "In 2018, as is true with every other year, fundraising revenue varied from organization to organization for a wide variety of reasons."