Blackbaud's 2011 Global State of the Nonprofit Industry report, released at last week's International Fundraising Congress in Holland, finds that globally nonprofits anticipate increases in both charitable income and expenditure as well as in demand for services.
The optimism was, however, less marked in the UK. For 2011 more UK nonprofits anticipated an increase in total expenditure (49%) than in total income (47%), down from 53% and 59% respectively in last year's survey.
Focusing on the international picture, Andrew Watt, president and CEO, Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), who provided commentary in the report, said: "There is a very real sense of optimism growing in the sector. Rising giving levels are what is driving the sense of optimism and, in turn, anticipated growth in staffing."
The report is based on survey results from 2,200 nonprofits around the world and covers general operations, fundraising, technology and Internet usage, and impact reporting and board performance.
Direct mail is still a main source of income for most nonprofits, despite the growing use of digital channels. More than half of the organisations surveyed
raise funds online and in most countries have enjoyed a growth in the percentage raised online from 2010 to 2011. While most respondents use social media tools, they tend to focus their efforts on recruiting new donors, rather than on communicating 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."
Key concerns for the nonprofits surveyed were managing relationships with supporters, new donor recruitment, and impact reporting. Many, however, did not feel they were being as successful in these as they might be.
“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.”
The UK results
In terms of where they should focus next year, many UK charities appeared confident that corporate fundraising would continue to grow: 40% expect increased funding from corporate donations in 2012, an increase of 10% over last year's result.
In terms of other growth areas, 50% expect individual donations to grow and 46% expect funding to increase from special events.
Although less than half of UK nonprofits report using social media as a channel to market their impact, 81% report using social networking to drive donations. This is the same figure reported by respondents from Germany and is a larger percentage than many of the other countries. For example, in France, only 44% of those surveyed said they did so, while just under 70% of those in Australia, Canada and the US said they used social media to drive
SMS was the least popular method for fundraising amongst those who responded. Just under a quarter of those surveyed said they used this, although 40% reported they had plans to implement this channel in the near future.
"This anticipation is particularly relevant when you consider that legislation in the UK has changed recently with the provision of tax effective giving mechanisms for text giving, such as the five digit 70XXX charity code that eliminates VAT,” said Adrian Cutcliffe, Blackbaud Europe’s marketing manager.