By Todd Cohen
[Note: This article, the first of three, is from a report written for Blackbaud, which asked me to look at fundraising strategies that nonprofits have found to be effective.]
Fundraising revenue overall for hospitals and other health care facilities fell 1.7 percent in the three months ended April 30, compared to the same period a year earlier, while fundraising revenue for medical research organizations fell 5.9 percent, according to new new giving indexes released by Blackbaud.
While they both declined in the most recent period compared to a year ago, fundraising patterns over the past year tracked by the Healthcare Index and Medical Research Index differed markedly from one another.
The Healthcare Index is based on annual fundraising revenue totaling nearly $1.72 billion at 483 hospitals and other care facilities, while the Medical Research Index is based on annual fundraising revenue totaling $563 million at 103 medical research organizations. In the past, data the two indexes track were combined and known as the Health Index.
Fundraising revenue at hospitals and other care facilities fell in every three-month period ending in April, May, June, July and August 2012, and then grew in every three month period ending in September, October, November and December 2012, and in January, February and March 2013.
In comparison, fundraising revenue at medical research organizations fell in every three-month period ending in April, May, July, August, November and December 2012 and in January 2013, while growing in the three-month periods ending in June, September and October 2012, and in February and March 2013.
“The trends differ largely due to the type of fundraising these organizations do,” says Chuck Longfield, senior vice president and chief scientists at Blackbaud. “Hospitals tend to do a lot of major gift fundraising. Research organizations tend to do a lot of direct marketing and events, which is evident in the results.”
For medical research organizations, “times are tough,” he says. “There’s a lot of pressure on these organizations. Direct marketing and direct mail strategies, for example, have seen increasing competition. A lot of people who support these organizations support others.”
At hospitals and other care facilities, however, after declining through much of 2012, he says, fundraising revenue grew through the latter part of the year and the early part of 2013, increases he attributed in part to a rebound in the stock market.
“Major gift fundraising is far more dependent on the stock market,” he says. “When people are feeling confident in their investments, and they have the resources, they’re much more generous with big gifts.”
Online giving for hospitals, research
Online giving at 503 hospitals and other care facilities that raised a total of nearly $154.5 million over 12 months, grew 11.7 percent in the three months ended April 30, 2013, compared to the same period a year earlier, while online giving at 242 medical research organizations that raised a total of nearly $475.5 million over 12 months, grew 1.9 percent in the three-month period, compared to the same period a year earlier.
Among 3,265 charities that raised nearly $11.59 billion over 12 months in all fields of interest that Blackbaud tracks in its overall Giving Index, fundraising revenue grew 0.4 percent in the three months ended April 30, compared to the same period a year earlier.
And among 2,753 charities that raised over $1.59 billion online over 12 months in all fields of interest that Blackbaud tracks its overall Online Index, online giving grew 10.1 percent in the three-month period, compared to the same period a year earlier.
Next: Investment in capacity pays off