Online Survey Results: Outlook 2013

Online Survey Results: Outlook 2013
Goettler Associates has completed it’s fourth survey of the philanthropic marketplace, and we are pleased to discover that there has been a dramatic shift toward a more optimistic outlook for the future. Seventy-four percent of organizations anticipate a future increase in gift revenue from individuals. This outlook represents a 38-point increase from the 2009 response.

The results of each of our surveys, as well as countless other industry studies, reinforces the knowledge that the best pathway to raise more money is to engage more individual donors. Many development officers will work diligently to court private foundations and corporate grants, but the survey data continuously points us toward a greater focus on individuals as the pathway to greater success.

Seventy-one percent of the organizations that raised more, did so because they increased the number of individuals that gave. This is a 13-point increase from our last survey three years ago. The second most frequently mentioned factor for why organizations raise more, was because individuals made larger gifts. We also found that the larger organizations in terms of annual budget and staff size raised more at a higher frequency than all other organizations. And how did it they do it? With a laser focus on individuals, and principally larger gifts from existing individual donors.

Is it best to study the characteristics of successful organizations, or better to study the challenges of those that perform at a lower level? We did both, and simply concluded that the deciding factor was the same: individual donors.

Certainly not all organizations are the same and circumstances change from community to community. We found that the mid-ranged size organizations ($2.5 to $20 million annual operating budget) reported a disproportionately higher positive impact from corporate donors, especially when compared to the larger organizations. And, the mid-sized entities reported foundation giving as a success factor at a much higher frequency than the smallest organizations.

Institutions focused on education are succeeding with larger donations from existing donors (of all types), while human & social service groups are improving their totals by receiving gifts from a larger number of donors.

Emerging Trends: The survey data suggests that the number of professional development staff employed by organizations may be changing. The number of organizations reporting one full-time professional increased by six-points from our last survey. The largest variation identified in staffing levels from the four survey average is a five-point decrease in the number of organizations with between 2 and 10 development personnel.

The arts/culture organizations are the least optimistic, as none of this group that raised more believes their success is part of an upward trend. The smallest organizations are also less optimistic than the average and much less so than those with the largest budgets.

Expectations for Future Appeals: Sixty-four percent of organizations expect the total number of donors to increase in the year ahead, and 53 percent believe the dollar amount of gift transactions will increase. We are also encouraged to find 53 percent who believe that major/capital gift appeals will increase.

We also identified some changes in what people are planning and doing. Plans to strengthen branding and positioning have risen by 10-points over the last half dozen years. More organizations are now planning a capital (major gifts) campaign than in 2009. Interest in organization-wide strategic planning has dipped below the four survey average, and the focus on new or redesigned web-sites has dropped below the four survey average.

We learned a lot about what people are planning and doing in our industry and hope the survey may be of help to you as well.

Our Outlook 2013 Report is the most comprehensive analysis that we’ve done to date.The 2013 Final report is available here and an extensive number of appendices are available here.