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Climate of Giving – Think Tank Results


Friday, 26th August 2005 at 1:08 pm
Staff Reporter
The climate of giving in Australia has generally remained strong and in some areas has increased despite fears of a backlash following the outpouring of generosity for the Tsunami tragedy in December 2004 according to Pro Bono Australia’s latest Think Tank results.

Friday, 26th August 2005
at 1:08 pm
Staff Reporter


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Climate of Giving – Think Tank Results
Friday, 26th August 2005 at 1:08 pm

The climate of giving in Australia has generally remained strong and in some areas has increased despite fears of a backlash following the outpouring of generosity for the Tsunami tragedy in December 2004 according to Pro Bono Australia’s latest Think Tank results.

The Australian results coincide with the release this month of the findings of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in the US and Canada which describe charitable giving in 2004 as robust with fundraisers being optimistic about 2005 fundraising.

The majority of participants in the fifth Pro Bono Australia Think Tank describe the climate of giving now as positive with some saying it as better than before. Some 65% believe there has either been no noticeable change in giving patterns or there has been an increase in donations.

A number of participants have experienced many new faces giving support and some saying their regular donors have increased the value of their donation.

One participant described the climate as being good, but manly for bigger well known organisations and issues with celebrity backing, but it is somewhat slower that 2004 for smaller organisations.

Another suggested that people are looking for new styles of giving feeling like they can expect to have meaning in their contributions rather than simply doing cheque book charity. There is more interest in partnerships and shared vision, liking to have the detail on what is being done with the money, not as a controlling or suspicious process but as a positive interest in being informed and sharing the outcomes.

Others were less enthusiastic. A positive climate but not too far from last year’s even with the Tsunami in mind. There doesn’t seem to be the rush at tax time as there usually is.

The State of Fundraising survey by the Association of Fundraising Professionals also found that the majority of Not for Profits in both the US and Canada reported that Tsunami giving did not negatively affect their fundraising efforts.

When asked if Tsunami giving had affected their fundraising efforts, 84 percent of U.S. respondents claimed no effect, while almost 16 percent said it did have an impact.

At the same time, 63 percent of Canadian respondents said the efforts had not affected their fundraising, but almost 37 percent said they were affected, both in terms of the number of contributions received and in the amount of funds raised.

(It should be remembered that the American and Canadian federal governments allowed taxpayers to claim a tax deduction (in the United States) or credit (for Canadians) in tax year 2004 for contributions made in January 2005 for the tsunami relief efforts.)

Despite these added incentives, almost 90 percent of U.S. respondents and 91 percent of Canadian respondents said they did not expect any long-term effect from the tsunami giving.

What issues were of greatest concern to professional fundraisers in 2004? In the United States, 17 percent of the respondents cited the economy as the single most important detriment to fundraising in 2004.

Other issues that negatively affected their fundraising included increasing competition for the charitable dollar (14.9 percent), developing fundraising strategies and overall strategic planning of an organisation (8.4 percent), brand awareness of charity and mission (7.8 percent) and staff issues in the development office (7.5 percent).

In Canada, 18.7 percent of respondents said that too many Not for Profits and increased competition for the charitable dollar negatively affected their fundraising in 2004.

Looking ahead for the rest of 2005, 72 percent of U.S. respondents believe that they will raise more money than they did in 2004, while 22.4 percent felt they would raise approximately the same and 5.6 percent believed they would raise fewer funds.

The Canadians are a little less optimistic, with 65.2 percent of respondents reporting they believe they will raise more money in 2005 than they did in 2004, 24.6 percent saying they would raise approximately the same and 10.2 percent indicating they would raise fewer funds.
Participants in the Pro Bono Australia Think Tank were asked if their organisations had changed their fundraising strategies since December 2004. Just over half responded in the negative.

But of those who did change direction some of their decisions included changing the timing of fundraising events and annual appeals, introducing partnerships instead of sponsorships, placing greater emphasis on special events and community educations programs. One organisation closed a major building appeal.

Here’s how one participant summed it up.

The effect or the potential threat to wide spread giving to a particular sector in NFPs due to a disaster like the Tsunami gave us an insight into the importance of having a risk management plan in place should such an occasion happen again. A plan on how we could survive if our appeals dried up.

Another said:

We are reviewing our approaches to rapid onset emergencies, observing Tsunami fundraising lessons learned. There are both good things to expand on in the future and processes that can be better refined. We are also working closely with other Not for Profits in our sector to discourage this public image of being ‘competative’ when it comes to need….

They key according to most is to maintain the momentum!

Think Tank participants showed a growing use of e-mail communications with their donor base, while event fundraising remained the most popular along with direct donor mailing, corporate sponsorship and grant seeking.

Some 48% of participants say they have made changes to their web sites and electronic communications with donors in the last six months.

If you would like an electronic copy of the Executive Summary of the APF State of Fundraising 2004 report please email us at: probono@probonoaustralia.com.au.

This is the final topic in our Think Tank series. Pro Bono Australia would like to thank all the dedicated ‘thinkers’ who have taken part in our electronic discussion across Australia.

We plan to deliver the combined findings of the five surveys during the Philanthropy Australia annual conference in October 2005 in Melbourne.

Thinkers will be rewarded for their involvement with a series of media training days to be announced shortly.



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