Bad News for Nonprofits - Foundation Giving Lost Ground in 2011

Bad news for nonprofits.  A report just released by the Foundation Center indicates that while foundation giving totaled $46.9 billion in 2011 (a slight increase from the previous year), inflation-adjusted foundation giving actually decreased.  Highlighting just how big the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is, the report suggests that giving by foundation has decreased 3% (on an inflation-adjusted basis), if the Gates Foundation is excluded from the mix.

A few highlights (or maybe lowlights) from the report:

  • Foundation assets increased slightly to $646.1 billion, but that's still well shy of the pre-recession high of $682.2 billion;
  • The financial market fluctuations and uncertainties of 2011 continued to take a toll on foundation assets; the report predicts that trend is likely to continue this year, which is less than encouraging for grantseekers;
  • Foundation giving overall is likely to remain flat in 2012;
  • The report anticipates a slight increase in giving for 2013 (though is cautious about making predictions beyond this year, given recent economic turmoil and the unpredictability of global markets that can impact foundation assets.

Despite all of the financial gloominess, 44% of foundations indicated that they expected to increase their giving next year.

Anticipated change in foundation giving 2012

So what's a nonprofit to do with this less-than-encouraging news?

  • Maintain and manage relationships with current funders.  Funder relationships require care and feeding.  Keeping in close touch with your current funders can help facilitate the process of renewed funding, or can provide key information that may impact your fundraising strategy (which may sometimes mean you find out that they're planning to shift their funding priorities, but it's better to find out sooner than later);
  • Don't assume increased grant funding for next year.  Budget for consistent, or possibly decreased, funding from foundation sources;
  • Continue to diversify your funding sources (which is always a good idea);
  • Start cultivating relationships with potential new funders now.  It's a process that takes a while.  Don't wait until you're desperate for a new funding source to start building new relationships.

What do you think?  How will your organization deal with this less than optimistic forecast?

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Image source: Foundation Growth and Giving Estimates, 2012, Foundation Center

Author: Dahna Goldstein
June 07, 2012, 12:43 PM

Grantseeking in 2011 - New Report Suggests Increasing Focus on Grants

fundraising dollar signs

As Congress continues to work through its debt ceiling negotiations, nonprofits continue to struggle with the state of the economy.  While some recent reports have indicated that the economy - and giving - have rebounded somewhat, other indicators (and a lot of on-the-ground experience) suggests that nonprofits are still struggling to make ends meet, let alone to find enough funding to grow their programs.

A report just published by GuideStar, The Fundraising Methods That Worked Best in 2010 - and Could Work Best in 2011, suggests that while fundraising in 2010 started to trend in the right direction (in terms of emerging from recession levels of fundraising), nonprofits would be well served by thinking about where to focus their fundraising efforts.

The report, based on information collected in a survey earlier this year, identifies ten fundraising techniques, and highlights which techniques were most successful for nonprofits in 2010, and therefore which would be good investements for nonprofits for the balance of 2011.

My key takeaways from this report:

  • Diversified funding streams are always important (that's not just a lesson from this report);
  • Look at your organization's fundraising history and the veritcal you are in to think about what channels are most effective for you.  Focus on those first;
  • Take the economic environment into account, not only in terms of individuals' and foundations' spending levels, but also what is likely to happen with Federal, state, and local governments.  The report suggests that nonprofits that rely on government funding should expect reductions in that funding source, and should look to diversify their revenue streams;
  • Investing in staff and other fundraising resources will pay off in the long run.  Cutting staff and other fundraising resources should only happen if absolutely necessary.  In the survey data, organizations that invested in staff and other fundraising resources were more successful in their fundraising efforts;
  • Increasing your organization's focus on foundation grants and grant writing is one way to maximize your organization's fundraising potential for the remainder of 2011 and into 2012.

What do you think are the best areas to focus your organization's fundraising efforts for the rest of 2011?

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Photo credit:
Author: Dahna Goldstein
July 29, 2011, 11:56 AM

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