February 1, 2015

Nonprofits say they are optimistic


Andrew Watt

Andrew Watt

Despite continuing economic turmoil, nonprofits throughout the world increasingly are upbeat that their staffing, earned income and charitable income all will grow in 2012, a new report says.

Nonprofits also expect demand for services will grow, spending will increase, and individuals will provide the main source of growth in contributions, says the 2011 State of the Nonprofit Industry Survey from Blackbaud.

Based on an online survey in June that generated over 2,200 responses from Blackbaud customers, the report also found nonprofits are optimistic about corporate donations and special events, and generally are optimistic about seeing an increase in contributions through their current fundraising methods.

"There is a very real senses of optimism growing in the sector," Andrew Watt, president and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, says in the report. "Rising giving levels are what is driving the sense of optimism and, in turn, anticipated growth in staffing."

The report finds the new fundraising and communication "channels," while growing, are not replacing traditional channels.

In communicating with donors in general, it says, email and the web are the most commonly used vehicles, while text-messaging is the least commong.

Nearly all nonprofits believe in the importance of measuring and reporting their impact, the report says, and they are using the web to do that.

And while nearly all nonprofits surveyed report their impact to the public, the report says, they "find it difficult to know which measurements to use to assess their performance."

The web represents nonprofits' most popular tool for telling constituents about their accomplishments and impact, and for communicating with potential donors, the report says.

Most survey respondents use social media but are not actively using it to communicate with constituents groups.

When nonprofits do use social media, the report says, they are directed mainly at potential donors.

Nonprofits throughout the world generally believe managing relationships with supports is one of the most important business practices for their organization's success, but they do not believe their organizations are doing a great job managing those relationships, the report says.

It also finds a big gap between the importance nonprofits assign to the job of recruiting new donors, and the way they rate their performance in that job.

Comment on this article


I have a measure of concern about rosy outlooks from those in a traditionally warm-and-fuzzy sector. Cart before the horse, anyone? Leaders in non-profit have biased and substantial P.R. interests in conveying the health of their organizations for fear of losing funding. I don't think that's a revolutionary position, but it's by no means a criticism, either. Optimism is, after all, a valuable trait and one, potent fuel to power the engines that improve our society.

The root of my concern lies in how the respondents "find it difficult to know which measurements to use to assess their performance." I'd argue that knowing what metric to use would directly inform an outlook for an organization, and if the most valuable metrics for determining organizational sustainability are unknown, any conclusion derived from admitted uncertainty is a tenuous one.

thank you for this thoughtful article

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