Professional fundraisers had a down year in 2015-16. However, this marks just one slice of overall charitable giving and does not necessarily indicate a down year for nonprofits as a whole.
Last fiscal year, donations to nonprofits raised by professional fundraising companies dropped to $35 million. That’s down from nearly $57 million in 2014-15, though still higher than in many years tracking back to 2009.
Importantly, however, this does not mean that nonprofits actually raised less money. This report is generated by the N.C. Secretary of State office and tracks donations only from funds raised by professional solicitors, or those paid by nonprofits to fundraise on their behalf.
“So that’s a fundraising firm that is being paid to make calls on behalf of XYZ nonprofit. So it’s those calls we all hate to get,” said Trisha Lester, president of the N.C. Center for Nonprofits, a group that helps and advocates for nonprofits and charities in the state.
Total funds raised by charities throughout the state is tougher to track, and reports that estimate fundraising success usually lag because of the time needed to collect all the data. Lester says that this report produced by the Secretary of State is valuable, but should be seen as just one slice of the pie.
“While it’s important to look at this, the overall revenue for the sector continues to grow,” she said. “So this is interesting data, but it’s just a piece of it.”
This report also tracks how much of these funds raised actually goes to the charities and how much stays with the paid solicitors. In 2015-16, charities received $20.6 million from the total collected, or only about 58 percent of total donations. Said another way, 42 percent of the funds donated through solicitors never made it to the targeted charities.