The Nonprofit Research Collaborative released their findings from their Winter 2015 Nonprofit Fundraising Study.  The study included more than 1200 organizations ranging in size from small (expenditures under $250,000) to large ($10 million or more in expenditures) organizations and from every subsector from Arts, Culture &; Humanities to Religion. A “top 10” summary of their findings is as follows:

1.  63% of respondents reported an increase in fundraising receipts during 2014 compared to 62% reporting an increase in 2013. Within the four regions of the United States, organizations in the West reported the greatest growth in charitable receipts at 70% (up from 63% in 2013), while in the Midwest, 66% saw increases in receipts (up from 63% in 2013). Organizations in the North reported the lowest increase in charitable receipts with 59% reporting increases in 2014. Also interesting to note is the North reported the highest percentage of decreases in charitable receipts (28%) from 2013.

2.  Among the various charitable sectors, The Arts reported the highest share of charitable receipts for 2014 with survey respondents reporting a 70% increase in 2014 compared to a 52% increase reported in 2013; while Health sector organizations reported the lowest share in increase of charitable receipts at 56%, down significantly from 65% in 2013.

3. In February 2014, 69% of responding charities predicted growth in charitable receipts for 2014 and by the end of 2014; only 63% actually saw growth in charitable receipts.

4.  Smaller organizations remain less likely than larger ones to meet fundraising goals with 59% having met fundraising goals in 2014 compared to 77% of large organizations ($10 million and higher in expenditures) meeting their fundraising goals.

5.  The most commonly used fundraising methods include major gifts (96%), board giving (92%), foundation grants (93%), corporate giving (92%), and direct response (90%).

6. Three of the most frequently used fundraising methods generated increased funds at only half of the organizations that use them. These include foundation grants (53% of responding organizations), board giving (50%), and corporate giving (53%).

7. Organizations reported the greatest increase in growth in email requests, other online giving (could include “Give Now” buttons on websites), giving through SMS/text, and social media. It is interesting to note that social media is one of the least used fundraising methods yet had the highest percentage of responding organizations indicating growth of any method used (79%).

8. New to the survey this year were questions regarding specific types of online or social media fundraising. 72% of respondents indicated they used organized efforts to promote local, regional, and/or national giving days (Giving Tuesday).

9. The survey revealed that the most likely planned gift donors are those who have been steady annual donors. 35% of organizations responding reported that at least half of their bequest donors had made three to five gifts or one to two gifts within the five years prior to donor’s death. The survey also revealed that 60% of the organizations reported that half or more of their bequests came from donors who had already made lifetime gifts.

10.  The largest challenge facing 2015 fundraisers is having adequate fundraising staff support, the organization’s ability to recruit new individual donors and other issues such as the overall economy or changing demographics. 

Nonprofit Research Collaborative. “Winter 2015: Nonprofit Fundraising Study.” Nonprofit Research Collaborative, March 2015.