Non-Profit Pessimism In Need of Philanthropic Boost

A recent survey by The Center of Philanthropy at Indiana University shows that the floundering economy is indeed having negative impacts on non-profit conceptions of charitable giving. According to the Philanthropic Giving Index (PGI), non-profits are less optimistic about the climate of philanthropy than they were one year ago. As this survey took place earlier this summer, we can only surmise that conceptions have grown worse in light of recent economic collapses, as described by Alan's post from last week.

"The PGI, similar to a Consumer Confidence Index for charitable giving, includes three indexes on a scale from 0 to 100, based on a semiannual national survey of nonprofit fundraising professionals," reports Indiana University. "In the latest survey, all three of the main indexes (overall PGI, Present Situation Index, and Expectations Index) fell from their previous levels" during summer 2007. Almost all fundraisers who were surveyed experienced less economic success than they predicted would occur last December. Of all fundraisers, Human service organizations ("one of the first types of nonprofits to be impacted by uncertain economic conditions") opined the strongest link between fundraising issues and the faltering economy.

This drab news was accompanied by positive finding that special fundraising events are effective tools at encouraging philanthropic efforts. Timothy L. Seiler, director of The Fund Raising School and Public Service at the Center on Philanthropy, extrapolated on these findings: “special events can be effective fundraising tools, and they engage new constituents and strengthen existing relationships.” He warned against fundraisers being overly focused on these events, however: “in these times, as in any, nonprofits should incorporate special events into a sound overall strategy—relying on events or any other single fundraising technique is not likely to bring an organization the success they are hoping for.”

The take-away of this survey for donors is clear: non-profits are in need of support. Even more, they are in need of actions that can boost confidence in this time of economic insecurity. Though most people's knee-jerk reactions to bad stock market trends is to stay put and hide their money in the proverbial mattress, this is actually the time when economic actions are needed most. Let's not contribute to the economic downturn, but instead show our confidence in Americans doing positive work, even in this iffy climate.

Dana Variano

Posted at 1:00 AM, Sep 25, 2008 in Economic Development | Nonprofit Management | Philanthropic Strategy | Permalink | Comment