Australian nonprofits are feeling optimistic about growth in fundraising revenue throughout 2012. Greg Johnson details the main themes emerging from Blackbaud’s latest State of the Nonprofit Industry Survey.

Australian nonprofits are feeling optimistic about growth in fundraising revenue throughout 2012. Greg Johnson details the main themes emerging from Blackbaud’s latest State of the Nonprofit Industry Survey.

Despite the lingering uncertainty in global financial markets, Australia’s nonprofits are feeling optimistic about their fundraising activities in 2012. In fact, we lead the world in confidence for the year ahead, with 79% of Australian nonprofits taking part in Blackbaud’s 2011 State of the Nonprofit Industry Survey (SONI) expecting an increase in charitable donations in 2012 (see Figure A).

While it’s a strong forecast for the Australian nonprofit sector, it also demonstrates that confidence is on the rise, after 62% expected an increase in charitable donations in 2011. Australia was the most confident nation in the survey, with just 4% of organisations predicting a decrease in charitable donations.

Aussie nonprofits are also feeling rosy about the prospects of their total income, with 83% expecting a rise in 2012 – up from 70% in 2011. It’s a similar story in New Zealand, where 48% of nonprofits forecast a rise in charitable donations in 2012, and 60% expect their total income to increase.

Figure A

Online fundraising activity on the rise

More organisations in Australia and New Zealand are actively raising funds online (64%), up from 58% and 53% respectively a year earlier. Interestingly, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom and the United States of America all recorded declines in online fundraising activity – in some cases by as much as 12% – it’s not clear, however, what may have led to this trend.

While respondents around the world universally felt they’d become more effective at using social media and would continue to do so, it was also largely deemed as being ineffective for securing individual donations. E-mailing existing donors to drive online donations is widely considered to be the most effective method of driving online donations.

The single greatest fundraising challenge facing nonprofits is campaign integration across channels, according to renowned fundraising professor, author and consultant Adrian Sargeant.

“Nonprofits need to do more to integrate the online with their offline and their fundraising with their advocacy and campaigning,” says Sargeant. “Donors want one coherent relationship with the organisations they support, not multiple relationships with half a dozen different teams.”

Where’s the fundraising dollar coming from?

There are four main areas Australian nonprofits are expecting an increase in fundraising from over the coming year (see Figure B): website donations, regular giving, major donors and direct mail for single gifts. More than 50% of respondents forecast growth for each of these areas, while bequests saw the largest expectation of a decline at 8%.

Sargeant believes that one of these areas stands above the rest for future fundraising income. “Two words: monthly giving. Regular/monthly or sustained gift programs are currently revolutionising the economics of fundraising,” says Sargeant. “If your nonprofit doesn’t have one-it should get one. Lifetime values are 600-800% higher than would be the case in traditional annual fund giving. It’s also more resilient in the face of changes in the economy.”

Figure B

Sector to grow with new positions

To support the increase in fundraising activity, organisations in Australia are also expecting to grow their fundraising staffing levels. Some 43% of Australian respondents are expecting to add to their fundraising staff levels in 2012, up 5% on the previous year (see Figure C).

New Zealand fundraising staffing levels are also forecast to rise, with 29% of organisations expecting to increase their fundraising staff in 2012, up from 19% in 2011.

Figure C

Reporting metrics a global concern

As donors become increasingly conscious of the effectiveness of the organisations to which they donate, nonprofits around the globe are not satisfied with the impact metrics at their disposal for the purpose of public reporting and marketing. Australia was one of the least satisfied nations, with 40% of respondents somewhat disagreeing and 29% strongly disagreeing that they had all the impact metrics they need (see Figure D).

Even for those that do have the right metrics in place, just measuring and reporting numbers isn’t enough, according to Nonprofit Technology Network executive director Holly Ross. She says you need to help donors visualise the impact of their donation through storytelling.

“Freeing your data from the tyranny of the bar chart will help your stakeholders get so much more meaning out of it,” she says. “You need to immerse your stakeholders in the data-allow them to explore it and find personal meaning in the data.

“When they can make it personal, they will share it, and you will reach more people,” adds Ross.

Figure D