The Nonprofit Research Collaborative (NRC) just released The 2016 Nonprofit Fundraising Survey. The 56-page report provides an illustration of the state of fundraising in the United States and Canada. The survey found a “… statistically significant year-over-year decrease ” in the percent of organizations reporting increased funds raised over the prior year. The report shares the results of a survey of 900 nonprofit organizations.

Trends over the years in meeting fundraising goals

Fewer organizations report having met fundraising goals, representing a “significant drop, from 73 percent in 2015 to 68 percent in 2016” (see figure 6).


Survey participants added comments indicating that some organizations set unrealistic fundraising goals. “Others did not have plans for maintaining annual giving during a capital campaign or for the contingency of not receiving an expected grant or major gift.”

“Take all these results together, and we are seeing the first slow-down in the rate of growth in charitable giving since the Recession of 2008 and 2009,” said Jason Lee, president and CEO of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, one of the sponsors of the NRC. “But it is important to underscore that giving remains fairly strong—with 60 percent of charities raising more money in 2016 and another 13 percent raising about the same, as compared to 2015. It is a decrease, but these numbers are consistent with results we have seen in the study since 2000, and many charities continue to do very well.”

Take all these results together, and we are seeing the first slow-down in the rate of growth in charitable giving since the Recession of 2008 and 2009- Jason Lee, President and CEO of AFP

Despite lower shares seeing growth, increased receipts still occurred at more than half of participating organizations for:

  • Major Gifts (55%)
  • Direct Mail (50%)
  • Online Methods (57%)
  • Special Events (54%)
  • Foundation Grants (53%)
  • Received and New Planned Gifts (58%)

Little link between fundraising investment and success

Participants revealed another interesting revelation in a lower correlation between fundraising investment and success than in years past. “We know from work by the NRC and by Giving USA Foundation, among others, that the amount invested in fundraising is usually highly correlated with the amount raised,” says Aggie Sweeney, CFRE, Campbell & Company (Seattle, WA) and chair of Giving USA Foundation. Giving USA Foundation is also an NRC partner. “The lack of a difference in this study is intriguing. There is also no difference by size in the share of responding organizations that report they were affected during the campaign season or after the election. On-going research is needed to help our field understand these and other changes in North American giving.”


What worked for organizations that met fundraising goals

We can learn from the organizations that met their fundraising goals.  95 of the respondents provided text responses with further explanation. Below, is a sample of some of those:

affected meeting fundraising goals


The NRC is a coalition of fundraising and charitable organizations dedicated to gathering and analyzing the most accurate data possible to help charities become more effective at fundraising. NRC partners are the Association of Fundraising Professionals; Association of Philanthropic Counsel; CFRE International; Giving USA Foundation; the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners; and TopNonprofits.

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Download the Report HERE for Free