Nearly six in ten charities surveyed (58%) raised more in 2012 than they did in 2011 from contributions, marking the first time since 2006 that significantly more than half showed such positive results.
The survey shows clear connection between thanking, engaging donors and meeting fundraising goals, according to the Association of Fundraising Professionals. AFP released the news at its annual conference last week. The report includes responses from nearly 1,200 charitable organizations in the United States and Canada.
There were no differences in fundraising results across the two countries or by type of charity.
If you say thanks, you’ll likely make your goal
While raising more than the prior year is one measure of success, meeting fundraising goals—which fluctuate for many reasons—is another. For 2012, among respondents with a goal, 63% percent met that fundraising goal.
“The NRC survey also asked about donor engagement and confirmed that simple steps are critical to giving and philanthropy,” said AFP CEO Andrew Watt. “Charities that routinely send thank-you letters to every donor were significantly more likely to meet their fundraising goal for 2012 than those that did not send a thank you at all.”
“Surprisingly, 29% of charities did not routinely send thank-you letters or emails for contributions received,” he continued. “This basic principle of successful fundraising cannot be stressed enough.”
Online continues to grow
The study annually asks about changes in amounts received from each of a dozen fundraising methods. The source of fundraising most likely to increase continued to be online. Nine in 10 organizations in this study received online contributions, and 57% of respondents that use that method saw an increase in 2012 compared with 2011 for online giving.
Planned giving brings results
Another section of the study asked about planned giving. Just over one-third (34%) of responding organizations have a formal planned giving program with staff or budget. Charities that had an active planned giving program were more likely to see growth in planned gift receipts in 2012, whether their operating budget was less than $1 million or $10 million or above.
“Planned giving can begin at any organization by asking long-time donors to include you as a beneficiary, even if at a low percentage, of a retirement plan or life insurance policy,” said Michael Kenyon of Partnership for Philanthropic Planning, a partner in the survey. “Having staff and volunteers who understand the basics of planned giving and who can refer potential donors to helpful resources can make the difference between a successful approach and one that is less productive.”
Download this survey and earlier ones at www.NPResearch.org.