The Shape of Things to Come

half-full-glassIn June, Target Analytics released its Index of National Fundraising Performance for Q1 2009 indicating that direct response giving to nonprofits in the Target Index (35 million donors translating to nearly $2 billion in giving) was down in the first quarter of the year. This was not surprising on the heels of Giving USA’s report a couple of weeks earlier that giving in 2008 was down 2% from 2007. In fact 2008 represented the first decline in giving, in current dollars, since 1987.

I realize that all this sounds awful. But fortunately, as both Target and Giving USA will tell you, their data is only part of the story. There are two other important things you need to know:

1) The Target Index represents 79 nonprofits. Big ones, who lead the way in direct response fundraising for sure. But still, just 79 nonprofits. According to the Foundation Center, there are 1.5 million nonprofits in the United States.

2) Although it may have been 2% less than the previous year, Americans gave over $307 billion to charities in 2008. This represents the second year ever, and in a row, that charitable giving has exceeded $300 billion. And it occurred in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

An informal polling of friends and colleagues has turned up a sense of cautious optimism for Year End ’09. In fact, we’re hearing quite a few reports of increased individual giving offsetting declines in foundation and corporate giving. So I’m viewing the glass as half full for the second half of 2009.

Do you have questions, opinions or predictions for Year End 2009 fundraising? Post them in the comments section below. We’ll keep an eye on things and report back.


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