New York Area Fundraisers Optimistic About 2015, Survey Finds

A majority of professional fundraisers in the New York City area are feeling good about 2015 and are hiring additional staff, a survey conducted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals' New York City Chapter for Crain's New York finds.

According to the annual survey (56 pages, PDF), 57 percent of respondents said they are optimistic about the fundraising environment this year, up from 44 percent last year, while 52 percent said their organizations are hiring development staff to take advantage of the more productive climate, compared with just 29 percent in 2014. In terms of sources, local fundraisers reported mixed results from foundations, with 33 percent of respondents reporting an increase in grant income in 2015, 26 percent reporting little or no change in grant income, and 26 percent reporting a decline in their grant income; in 2014, 20 percent of respondents reported a decline in funding from foundations. This year's survey also found that 53 percent of respondents reported an increase in donations from individuals, while 9 percent reported a decline. In addition, giving by corporations remained steady, with 25 percent of respondents reporting an increase and 36 percent reporting no change.

The report also found that 70 percent of respondents agreed that securing grants and planning new fundraising events now require a greater investment of time, which can be a strain on smaller nonprofit organizations. "We're holding longer fundraisers to raise less and less money," said Mark Dunlea, former executive director of Hunger Action Network of New York State, who stepped down from that position in March. "Foundations have dropped dramatically for us [in recent years]," he added. "Foundations look for 'new and exciting'. No one wants to give to core [social-service] projects."

At the same time, the survey found that 84 percent of respondents used social media to connect with donors, up from 51 percent last year. Vaughn Caldon, co-executive director of the Street Academy for Financial Literacy, told Crain's that while social media is an advantage when it comes to recruiting younger donors, direct-mail appeals remain critical in maintaining relationships with older, wealthier donors.

"Whether we get the chance to shake hands in person or shake hands digitally," said Gary Laermer, senior vice president and chief development officer of the YMCA of Greater New York and an AFP-New York board member, "the opportunities have never been better."

Erica Davies. "Fundraisers Raising Hopes for 2015 Haul." Crain’s New York 06/10/2015.