As total giving drops, donors looking for charitable dollars to yield more
By Zachary S. Fagenson
Corporate and institutional gifts to nonprofit groups were expectedly down in 2009, but donors still want their money used as efficiently as possible and are re-prioritizing their own organizations and looking for grant recipients that can give them the most bang for their buck.
Preliminary results of a survey of about 55 members of the Donors Forum, which includes about 115 institutional funders that annually disburse about $725 million in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties, found that more than half have decreased their funding.
"Essentially about 60% of funders, representing all types of funders — family foundations, independent foundations, private foundations as well as some local government… — decreased their giving," said Scot Marken, president and CEO of the Donors Forum. "I would say 30% decreased [their giving] by more than 15%."
Three-quarters of participants, he added, got an increase in funding requests and proposals with 14% reporting a "dramatic" increase.
And while he was wary of blanket statements to describe the funding drop-off, Mr. Marken also said the survey found that 10% of participants actually increased funding.
Although a bleak 2009 was what many nonprofits and donors expected, the financial hardship forced many of them to change the way they think and operate.
"One thing that our survey showed is more than a quarter did make changes to the priorities of what they fund," he said. "It was a time for funders to think about the work they had been doing and their strategy and make some changes."
Among those changes are in-kind donations to help charities make best use of the dollars they have.
Additionally, funders are looking for results from the money they donate.
"If there's a tutoring program," Mr. Marken said, "it's not enough to say we're tutoring 100 children. They have to see their grades improve."
Final survey results, to be ready next week, will be used by donors interested in learning how their colleagues are managing their assets during these times as well as charities looking to get an idea of what funders expect from them.