How Fundraising Techniques Paid Off in 2011

A new survey finds that seven in 10 groups expect giving to rise in 2012, largely because of the improving economy, but small groups continue to struggle.

Some solicitation approaches proved more successful than others last year. Here’s a look at what worked and what didn’t.

Majority of Nonprofits Reached Fundraising Goals in 2011, Survey Finds

Seven in 10 nonprofits expect their donations to increase this year, after 2011 became the first year since the recession started that a majority of nonprofits reported an increase in the amount they raised.

Still, the recovery is uneven, according a report of 1,600 nonprofit released today. Thirty-one percent, mostly small organizations, said contributions dropped in 2011, and 41 percent said they did not meet their fundraising goals.

A big burst in donations during the last three months of 2011, propelled by a recovering economy, enabled 53 percent of groups to surpass the amount raised in 2010.

The study was conducted by the Nonprofit Research Collaborative, a coalition of nonprofits and fundraisers that report on the state of giving twice a year.

“With some caution, I think [charities] should be taking it as a turning around,” says Chuck Longfield, chief scientist at Blackbaud, the fundraising-software company that is one of the sponsors of the survey. “They have a reason to be optimistic.”

Boosts to Online Giving

Most nonprofits attributed their success to taking advantage of online fundraising tools, relying on diverse sources of money, and encouraging their board members to take their role as fundraisers more seriously. Of all the techniques used, online giving was the strongest, with 59 percent of organizations that raise money online saying they achieved an increase. That was followed by special fundraising events, with 52 percent of groups saying their walkathons, galas, and other such efforts were more lucrative in 2011 than in 2010. The lowest percentages of increases were for groups that seek foundation grants and ask board members to give their own money; just 42 percent of groups that rely on those approaches reported gains.

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