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Mixed Reports on Nonprofit Fundraising and Welfare

Online giving increased 14 percent in 2013, but demand for nonprofits' services also grew, often exceeding organizations' ability to meet it. These are key takeaways from the recently published 2014 M+R Benchmarks Study and Nonprofit Finance Fund's 2014 State of the Sector Survey.

2014 State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey

Published on April 7, the 2014 State of the Sector Survey finds cause for concern about nonprofits' current and future welfare. "The economic recovery is not offering signs of relief for the nonprofit sector," a Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF) release states. NFF's survey of more than 5,000 nonprofits reveals:

  • Eight of ten nonprofits reported increased demand for their services in 2013.
  • More than half—56 percent—could not meet that demand.

Many nonprofits are adapting, however:

  • Nearly one-third (31 percent) are exploring new ways to generate income.
  • Nearly half (49 percent) collaborated with other organizations to stretch resources.
  • Some 48 percent invested in professional development.
  • Four out of ten nonprofits sought greater efficiency by upgrading hardware or software.
  • More than one-third (38 percent engaged) in strategic or financial planning.

2014 M+R Benchmarks Study

Released April 9, 2014, the 2014 M+R Benchmarks Study examines the results of online fundraising and advocacy in 2013 by 53 leading nonprofits, including AARP, Feeding America, PBS, and the Sierra Club. Overall, the report paints an encouraging picture, as outlined in a release announcing its publication:

  • E-mail lists grew 14 percent, making up for a decline in open and response rates. E-mail was responsible for approximately one-third of online donations.
  • Total online giving also increased 14 percent. Monthly online giving grew 25 percent.
  • Nonprofit website traffic grew 16 percent.
  • Nonprofits' social media presence grew, with Facebook fans increasing 37 percent and Twitter followers up 46 percent.

Why Such Divergent Outlooks, and What Are We to Make of Them?

The two studies focus on different things. The 2014 M+R Benchmarks Study looks specifically at the effectiveness of online fundraising and advocacy in 2013, concentrating on data from 53 organizations. The NFF survey takes a broader view, looking at demand and overall financial health in addition to fundraising, and is based on survey responses from nearly 100 times more organizations than the M+R report.

Nonprofits that do not have a strong Web presence should look at enhancing it. One way to accomplish this goal is to participate in the GuideStar Exchange. Through the Exchange, an organization can present up-to-date information to millions of users, not only on GuideStar but also on our many partner sites. There's no charge to participate.

Nonprofits can also collect donations through GuideStar. In 2012, more than 1,200 nonprofits received a total of $441,578.62 through our site. Just follow these instructions to give us permission to collect donations on your behalf.

Mixed-Reports-on-Nonprofit-Fundraising-and-Welfare_Suzanne-Coffman.jpgSuzanne E. Coffman, April 2014
© 2014, GuideStar USA, Inc.

Suzanne Coffman is GuideStar's editorial director and editor of the GuideStar Newsletter.


Topics: Fundraising