Weakness in Economy Isn't Hurting Charities
New York Times, March 14, 2008
Despite the economic downturn and fears of recession, major charities say their fund-raising has not fallen off.
"We're doing fine," said Christina Walker, director of development at the Cleveland Orchestra. "We haven't seen any effect yet."
In fact, some 64 percent of the organizations that have responded so far to the Association of Fundraising Professionals' annual survey on fund-raising have reported bringing in more money in 2007 than the year before.
"Our surveys tell us fund-raising has been holding steady," said Paulette V. Maehara, the association's president and chief executive, who emphasized that the findings for 2007 were preliminary and that in any case the environment could change over the course of 2008.
Darell Hammond, chief executive of KaBOOM!, a nonprofit group that builds and maintains playgrounds, said he and his senior management team were keeping a close eye on revenue to see what effect, if any, the organization would feel from economic weakness. The 12-year-old group has long been a favorite of corporate donors, and declines in corporate donations tend to be steeper during hard times than do reductions in gifts from other sources.
But Mr. Hammond said corporate support had so far remained strong, fortunately. Last year the organization embarked on an effort to diversify its financing sources, reaching out to foundations and individuals. Many foundations, he said, have since told the organization that they are not making any new commitments, and the first foray by KaBOOM! into direct mail, last fall, attracted just $50,000, a quarter of what it had expected.
"Whether that was due to the economy or just a measure of how tired people are of direct mail," Mr. Hammond said, "I don't know."