There is a silver lining to 2009 | npENGAGE

There is a silver lining to 2009

By on Jul 20, 2010


Recession, market turmoil, troubled economy — these words got a lot of air time in 2009. And rightfully so! We have all felt the impact of the economy over the past year, especially nonprofit organizations that worried about their ability to fundraise in such challenging times. After all, could people afford to give when there was so much uncertainty in their lives and the world around them?

Well, according to the data that appeared in the recently published report, Giving USA 2010: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2009, nonprofits overall did a very good job at weathering the storm. So what can we learn from this report that’s chock full of dollar figures and percentages? Some valuable nuggets of information:

Total charitable giving was down 3.6 percent in 2009. Although this is noted as the “steepest decline in current dollar terms since Giving USA began its annual reports in 1956,” most people will likely see this outcome as favorable because they were expecting much worse.

Individual giving was down a mere 0.4 percent. Individuals surprised us with their generosity, opening up their wallets to help others. Sure, the dollar amount of individuals’ donations might have been lower than in the past, but the philanthropic mindset of donors remained intact, even in the face of economic instability.

Nonprofits in several verticals experienced increases in giving. Health, human services, international affairs and environment/animal-related organizations all noted slight boosts in giving. Some of these higher number could be attributed to donors who wanted to help support those who were most impacted by the recession.

Giving to education, foundations, public-society benefit organizations, and arts, culture and humanities organizations dropped. The most notable decline was the 8.0 percent drop in giving to foundations.

Of course, it would have been great to have had more favorable results overall, but there is a silver lining to the grey cloud known as 2009. With a brighter outlook ahead, nonprofits – especially those with organized fundraising programs – can hope to bring in even more dollars in 2010.

The data from Giving USA’s report can be used as a benchmark against which nonprofits compare their past performance and as a guide to set goals for the future. When examined in combination with the information provided by the annual Convio Online Marketing Nonprofit Benchmark Index Study, we can gain valuable insight into online giving, which rose 14 percent in 2009.

So, how did your nonprofit stack up to your peers in 2009? And how’s it looking for 2010?



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