Challenges Faced in 2013 Nonprofit Fundraising According to Research
A recurring theme throughout 2013 is the state in which nonprofit fundraising finds itself – the challenges faced in grow fundraising revenue in a climate that is constantly changing. The most recent Blackbaud Index revealed Summer Impacts Nonprofit Fundraising with Mixed Results and just when we think we are making strides in strengthening our fundraising results, we are presented with another challenge. Recent research by The Center for Effective Philanthropy titled Nonprofit Challenges, What Foundations Can Do highlighted current struggles with the purpose of helping nonprofits understand how they can overcome and better meet objectives. Based on a survey of 296 nonprofit Executive Directors the following were key findings in the research:
- Demand – Many nonprofits are having a hard time meeting the growing demand of the services they provide according to 80% of Executive Directors. This is a challenge for their organization and a well-known challenge amongst fundraisers as confirmed by last year’s The Nonprofit Finance Fund’s yearly survey in which 52% of nonprofits confirmed they could not meet the demand for their services. This statistic is concerning as it represents an increase of 8% over three years from 2009’s results.
- Technology – 77% of respondents cited that technology was a challenge for them. This is certainly when it comes to what the research calls “basic” technologies, but taking it a step further often nonprofits are challenged in also not having the human resources to manage direct marketing campaigns that include social media initiatives, email marketing and web design and maintenance. Technology is a critical component for nonprofits to be deficient in as it directly impacts fundraising results and overall operational effectiveness, leaving them well behind organizations that employ up-to-date technology.
- Leadership – Although 3rd in the listing of challenges, leadership continues to be an area of concern for nonprofits as 73% felt they did not have sufficient resources and opportunities to develop leadership skills. Results corroborate those of the Underdeveloped: A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising where high turnover, lengthy vacancies and qualified talent were major concerns of fundraising leaders. Attracting and keeping leaders to direct an organization forward in their mission continues to be a key challenge and yet is the cornerstone of successful nonprofit organizations.
- Growth – Maintaining and growing an organization’s fundraising revenue is another key challenge that nonprofits face especially in recent years of uncertain economic times, where 72% found it challenging to maintain fundraising revenue it and 77% to grow it. There are many strategies and initiatives that a nonprofit can implement to sustain revenue, including and not limited to investing into their team and technologies, taking calculated risks and communicating strategically with supporters as I indicated in 4 Tips to Improve Nonprofit Fundraising in an Uncertain Economic Climate.
As the report was geared towards foundations and although nonprofits look to them for their support both through financial and other resources, what is clear is there is a disconnect in communication with information as only 52% of responding nonprofits felt that foundations were aware of the various challenges the organizations faced. Communicating with and keeping founders up to date about one’s needs can bring to light the challenges that are being faced and opportunities for further funding or other help.
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