June Blackbaud Index projects a slow summer ahead for nonprofit fundraising | Miratel Solutions

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Blackbaud Index shows nonprofit fundraising heading into a slow summer of growth

The May Blackbaud Index for nonprofit data has just been released and the nonprofit fundraising results continue to demonstrate that the sector is still showing modest growth versus 2013. Considering that we’re measuring a very large sample of data via the Blackbaud report which collects total fundraising information from almost 4,000 US-based organizations who represent all sizes and sectors of the nonprofit fundraising industry the trend remains encouraging overall.

The reports assesses year-over-year fundraising donation in both the traditional and online spheres and compiles the information on a rolling three-month basis which allows for a more defined view of the overall trends in the sector. 2013 was such a successful year in nonprofit fundraising growth among those organizations studied by Blackbaud that matching those results was always likely to prove difficult in 2014 and yet almost halfway through the year the aggregate numbers do show some positive growth. So far in 2014 overall giving is up by about 2.5% which is a remarkable achievement, total revenues once more are aided in no small measure by online fundraising which while it has slowed moderately still reports 2014 growth of just over 11% compared with last year.

As we enter the summer months it is noteworthy that June, July and August have traditionally resulted in quite different months in terms of year-over-year growth according to the Blackbaud Index which in turn provides a good indicator of what to expect over the next three months. While I don’t anticipate the trend so far in 2014 to suddenly spike upward I also feel that decreases will be quite minor which may still allow annual fundraising growth to remain above 2% versus 2013.

Looking at the data in more detail there seems to be a very cyclical nature to the summer results, during the two strongest years of growth in 2011 and 2013 the summer results were actually quite notably better than the monthly average for the entire year. In keeping with the patten of every other year the slightly weaker growth years of 2010 and 2012 (with 2014 set to follow) showed that the summer months underperformed when compared with the rest of the year. Although the difference isn’t extremely large it’s certainly enough to impact the overall reporting period.


The data and table above illustrates the annual change according to Blackbaud for each year plus the average for the summer months of June-August along with the overall variation between the two. The trend is almost universal with strong years accentuated by summer results and slower years softened during the same time-frame which projects to a slower summer of growth ahead.

Although it would be unexpected, if the current 2.5% is maintained through August the potential for overall growth between three or four percent becomes attainable with a typical year-end spike in donations. Economic conditions overall leave my optimism somewhat guarded however as despite many economic indicators remaining positive there have a been a few consecutive months of data that shows a plateau may have been reached in terms of employment, manufacturing and consumer confidence – each of which do translate to having significant impact on nonprofit giving overall.

Next month we’ll take a look at the mid-year data from Blackbaud and also breakdown the sector by sector reporting to analyze which elements of the fundraising sectors are performing most effectively this year versus last. If you are a member of a nonprofit organization I’d also be curious to know how well fundraising is going this year versus last and your expectations for the second half of the year.

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Miratel Solutions is a Toronto call centreeBusiness, and letter shop mail house specializing in professional fundraising services including PCI compliant inbound telephone fundraisingoutbound telephone fundraisingonline fundraisinglottery fundraising servicesdonation processing and receipting and direct mail fundraising services. We are committed to our CSR business values in all our business decisions  and advancing the missions of the nonprofits we proudly serve.

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