Majority of Charities Report Decreased Contributions, Increased Demand for Services, Eighth Annual GuideStar Nonprofit Economic Survey Finds

Release date: December 3, 2009
Proportion Reporting Reduced Contributions Consistent with Late 2008, Early 2009

Washington, D.C., and Williamsburg, Va.—The proportion of charitable organizations reporting decreased contributions rose for the second consecutive year but remained comparable to results for late 2008 and early 2009, the eighth annual nonprofit economic survey by GuideStar shows.

GuideStar, the leading source of nonprofit information, asked individuals associated with charitable organizations how contribution levels for January through September 2009 compared to those for the same period a year earlier. Some 51 percent reported decreased contributions. That figure is a significant increase from the 35 percent who reported reduced contributions in 2008. The latest results are consistent, however, with the 52 percent of respondents who reported decreased contributions in each of two previous GuideStar surveys, the first covering October 2008 through February 2009 and the second covering March through May 2009. Read more and view tables of the survey results >

Some 46 percent of participants reported that their organizations receive the majority of donations between October and December, the period known as the giving season. Of this number, 45 percent anticipate that total contributions for the 2009 giving season will be lower than those for the 2008 giving season.

For the seventh consecutive year, a majority (62 percent) of respondents reported increased demand for their organizations' services.

Only 31 percent, however, said that their organizations had reduced budgets for 2010. Another 36 percent reported increased budgets for 2010, and 29 percent said that next year's budgets would be the same as this year's. The remaining 4 percent did not know.

"Despite an extraordinarily tough year, people in the nonprofit sector remain optimistic," said Bob Ottenhoff, GuideStar's president and CEO. "Still, with contributions down and demand for services up, charities need donors' gifts more than ever. These organizations provide vital services. GuideStar's hope is that people will be as generous as possible in supporting these organizations and their important work this holiday season."

About the Survey

A survey of public charity and private foundation employees was conducted online October 1-15, 2009, the eight annual nonprofit economic survey conducted by GuideStar, and the third of three such surveys conducted by GuideStar in 2009. There were 2,565 usable responses, 2,381 (93 percent) from public charities and 184 (7 percent) from private foundations.

About GuideStar

GuideStar,, connects people and organizations with information on the programs and finances of more than 1.8 million IRS-recognized nonprofits. GuideStar serves a wide audience inside and outside the nonprofit sector, including individual donors, nonprofit leaders, grantmakers, government officials, academic researchers, and the media.

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