An improving economy has boosted nonprofit fundraisers’ positive attitudes about the current climate for charitable giving by nearly 40 percent from one year ago, according to the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University’s Philanthropic Giving Index (PGI).
The survey’s Present Situation Index, which assesses the current fundraising climate, shows a 38.7 percent increase from one year ago and is at nearly the level seen before September 11, 2001. The overall PGI, which includes both the current and predicted future climate, is more than 25 percent higher than a year ago.
“This is great news for nonprofit organizations and their fundraisers who have endured challenging times over the last couple of years,” Center Executive Director Eugene R. Tempel said. “Overall, we are seeing a return to fundraising normalcy, which seems to be enhanced by a good economy.”
Indeed, fundraisers are becoming more optimistic about the positive impact of the economy on fundraising. The survey found that 45 percent of respondents said the economy currently is having a positive or very positive impact. In December 2003, 31 percent expressed the same view while only seven percent held that opinion one year ago.
Fundraisers’ optimism also extends to the future. More than 62 percent of those surveyed said the economy will have a positive impact on fundraising in six months. By contrast, in Summer 2003 only 36 percent believed the impact of the economy would be positive in six months.
“In addition to the improved economy, recent positive changes in the stock market and personal income—the two best predictors of changes in individual giving —have bolstered fundraisers’ attitudes,” said Patrick M. Rooney, director of research at the Center on Philanthropy. “An 11 percent increase in the Consumer Confidence Index also has reinforced optimism among senior development officers from around the country.”
The PGI is similar to a Consumer Confidence Index for charitable giving. The report includes three indexes, on a scale from 0 to 100, based on the survey data: the Present Situation Index gauging the current giving environment, an Expectations Index assessing the climate for the next six months and the overall PGI that is an average of the current and future climates. Higher scores indicate more positive or optimistic attitudes about the climate for fundraising.
The overall PGI was 90.6 (+25.3 percent from Summer 2003 survey), the highest it has been since Sept. 11, 2001. The Present Situation was 87.4 (+38.7 percent) and the Expectations Index was 93.8 (+15.0 percent).
Fundraisers at arts, culture and humanities organizations were more optimistic on all three indexes than were fundraisers from other types of organizations.
Major gifts and direct mail continue to be considered successful fundraising techniques in the current environment. However, the percentage of fundraisers who believe planned giving to be successful dropped from 73.8 in December 2003 to 58.7 percent currently.
Fundraisers also were asked a new series of questions relating to planned giving instruments. Those surveyed are finding success with bequest commitments (74.1 percent) and annuities (55.4). Insurance policies were considered least successful at 21.1 percent.
While perceived success with planned giving may have decreased, organizations are seeing improvement with e-mail and Internet fundraising, although fundraisers report that they both continue to be the least successful of all techniques.
PGI survey participants are chosen to represent a cross-section of nonprofits nationwide in terms of geographic region, annual revenue size, and type of organization. The survey, which was conducted in May, was mailed to 410 development executives of nonprofit organizations and 40 fundraising consultants. Of those, 177 fundraisers and 26 consultants responded, for an overall response rate of 45.1 percent.
The survey was sponsored in part by the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy.
The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University, a part of the Indiana University School of Liberal Arts at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, is a leading academic center dedicated to increasing the understanding of philanthropy and improving its practice through research, teaching, public service and public affairs programs in philanthropy, fundraising, and management of nonprofit organizations.
# # #
Note to Editors: The full report can be accessed at: http://www.philanthropy.iupui.edu/PGI-Summer2004.pdf
© 2004 The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University
[PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION]