Thursday, December 2, 2010

Things Are Looking Up...Mostly!

I’ve been working in the charitable sector for a long time, but even I’ve been stunned by the number of surveys that have been released recently about fundraising and giving—giving up, giving down, optimism up, major gifts down, number of total gifts up, average gift amount down. It’s a bit overwhelming, and at some point, too much information leads to overload.

That’s one of the reasons why AFP has partnered with five other leading philanthropic organizations to create the Nonprofit Research Collaborative. As I wrote in one of my November posts, by combining our research, we’ve created the most comprehensive and accurate survey of fundraising ever, with responses coming from every type and size of charity. That’s important, because you know the data is solid and representative of the whole community.

And even more critical, the data actually have some good news. We’re seeing an increase in the number of organizations raising more funds than last year. Of course, we have to be measured in our enthusiasm. These increases aren’t huge, and we’re still nowhere near the level of giving we saw in 2007 before the recession. And demand for services continues to grow far beyond the increases in giving.

But at least we do have some good news. And a lot of guarded optimism. And perhaps a sense that we’ve seen the worst of it.

More good news came with the release of a report by Convio that explored a previously unaddressed aspect of philanthropy so far this year: holiday giving. The report estimates that U.S. giving will total at least $48 billion between Thanksgiving and the end of the year, with online giving growing by 30 percent to more than $6 billion. The report has a lot of great information about giving by different groups of donors and is well worth a read.

I was in New York City at the end of November working with two leaders from Convio, meeting with members of the media to give my perspective on the current charitable environment and commenting on Convio’s research. I also had the great honor of being part of the NASDAQ Closing Bell Ceremony and was able to get this great picture from Times Square. Thank you, Vinay and Gene, for setting that up. What fun, and a unique way to increase the profile of AFP and the fundraising profession.

Let me know how your fundraising is going so far during this holiday season, if it mirrors these reports and what you expect to see by the end of the year. I wish you the best of luck in inspiring donors to great heights!

Photo Caption: From left: Vinay Baghat, founder of Convio; Paulette Maehara, president and CEO of AFP; and Gene Austen, President and CEO of Convio at the NASDAQ Closing Bell Ceremony.

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