Despite Global Economic Uncertainty, Nonprofits Are Optimistic Heading into 2012
New report finds that majority of organizations around the world anticipate
increases in charitable income, demand for services and expenditures

Blackbaud, Inc. today announced the release of the 2011 Global State of the Nonprofit Industry report, featuring survey results from 2200 international respondents covering nonprofit general operations, fundraising, technology and Internet usage, and impact reporting and board performance. The results were also released today at the International Fundraising Congress (IFC) in the Netherlands.

Key findings include:

  • There is a growing sense of optimism in the global nonprofit sector regarding growth in staffing and earned and charitable income in 2012. Organizations also anticipate an increased demand for services and increased expenditures.
  • Most organizations continue to leverage traditional channels, even while they are increasingly using new interactive channels. More than half of the organizations surveyed raise funds online and in most countries have shown growth in percentage raised online from 2010 to 2011. While most respondents use social media tools, they are directing their efforts towards potential donors, not communications with other constituent groups.

“Direct mail fundraising is at the core of most nonprofits,” said Holly Ross, executive director of the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN), who provided commentary in the report. “Entire institutions, processes and support systems have been built to support the direct mail empire in our sector. It’s baked into our DNA, and changing that is tough.

“Direct mail has been around for a century now. By comparison, this online stuff is still really new. Nonprofits are still experimenting, finding what does work, and our donors are still getting used to the idea of giving online. So at the end of the day, nonprofits aren’t replicating the success of offline fundraising, but they are defining success in a new venue.”

  • Nonprofit organizations throughout the world feel that managing relationships with supporters, new donor recruitment, and impact reporting are critical; however, they do not feel they are doing a great job with these practices.

“The single biggest challenge with supporter management is campaign integration,” said Adrian Sargeant, fundraising professor and consultant, who provided commentary in the report. “Nonprofits need to do more to integrate the online with their offline and their fundraising with their advocacy and campaigning. Donors want one coherent relationship with the organizations they support, not multiple relationships with half a dozen different teams.”

Regarding donor recruitment, Sargeant said that smarter acquisition is the key. “We should move away from short term measures of acquisition performance such as the cost per donor, response rate, average donation etc. and focus on spending a little more to recruit in donors that will have a higher lifetime value.”

Lastly, when it comes to impact reporting, he advises nonprofits to look to their peer organizations to create their own dashboards of relevant performance metrics to provide stakeholders with a rounded picture of organizational impact.

The complete report is available at blackbaud.com/industryanalysis.

update: According to the same survey, U.K. charities are feeling less optimistic about future income than at this time last year. 54% believe their income will increase in 2010, down from 59% last year.

Also, of note, the survey also showed that of the nine countries included in the survey, including the US, France and Australia, UK organisations were the least likely to send thank-you letters to donors.

Only 67 per cent said they sent thank-you letters, compared with 83 per cent in Australia, the highest proportion.