Reports: 2017 was a good year for fundraising

Written on Apr 25, 2018

Two recent surveys on the economic health of philanthropy show that 75% of organizations met fundraising goals during 2017 and giving by big donors accelerated 47% during the fourth quarter year-over-year.

The survey results had fundraisers optimistic for the remainder of 2018.

The Nonprofit Research Collaborative (NRC) reported that along with reaching goals during 2017, the result is the highest percentage that have met goals since the survey started in 2010. The results also showed that 63% raised more money than in the prior year, which is an improvement compared to the 58% that had increases in charitable gift receipts from 2015 to 2016.

Organizations that were most likely to reach goal include colleges and universities, with 85% hitting the amount planned. The least likely to reach goal were charities in the “public society benefit” subsector, which includes consolidated fundraising activities such as United Way, Jewish federations, and community foundations plus groups that work on societal issues such as civic engagement, civil rights, or community and economic development.

Among public society benefit organizations, 62% met their fundraising target. Other types of organizations, such as those working in arts, health, human services, or religion, fell between 62% and 83%.

The survey also sought predictions regarding 2018. Among all survey participants in both the U.S. and Canada, 61% project another good year for fundraising in 2018.

In the United States, 10% of those surveyed thought the tax law change would help increase giving and nearly two-thirds (62%) thought giving would either stay the same or decline. Another 28% said the changes are too complex to attempt to guess.

The quarterly report of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project showed a startling 47% increase in giving from donors who gave $1,000 or more.

According to results in the 2018 Fundraising Effectiveness Quarterly Report, covering the fourth quarter of 2017, overall donations to nonprofits in the U.S. increased 4% in 2017 compared to 2016. It reverses a year-long decline of 4% through the end of the third quarter of 2017, with substantial increases in giving at all donation levels to end the year.

While there is a correlation between the increase and the recent tax changes and run up of the stock market in the same time period, more research will be necessary to understand exactly why giving increased so suddenly near the end of the year, according to the report’s authors.

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