Summer Busy, Summer Not

summertimeIt’s summer, and in my house that means we do things like get dental checkups, schedule eye exams, start gathering supplies for fall and, perhaps most importantly, schedule some time away from work. But at work, it’s also a good time to schedule some tasks that can help the rest of the development and calendar seasons be a little more efficient.

The National Center for Charitable Statistics produces some interesting data each year to help the nonprofit sector keep an eye on the growth and overall health of the sector. As fascinating as you might find this data, it may prove to be a little more valuable than just ‘interesting.’ It may suggest a way for you to gauge your own organization’s growth and health. While not every measure will apply to every organization, it’s still a benchmark opportunity that can help you set some valuable and viable goals.

Let’s review a few of their findings:

  1. According to the Giving USA report for 2014, 72% of all contributions came from individuals (not counting bequests).

What percentage of your donors are individuals? And do you spend a comparable portion of your time reaching out to that segment of your own donor population? You should be able to easily find this data in your database – in ResultsPlus, you will want to query on fiscal year totals for I-type folders.

  1. That same report suggests that, on a national level, individual giving peaked in 2005 and then dropped during the recession in 2008. It has been gradually rising since 2009 but has still not reached the 2005 inflation-adjusted level.

Does your individual giving pattern follow the national trend? If your donation totals have not grown in the past 5 years, and you’ve been attributing this to the economy, perhaps you might dig a little deeper and figure out what other causative factors might be affecting your charitable returns.

  1. A 2012 GuideStar Survey concluded that a substantial percentage of charitable organizations receive the majority of their charitable gift income between October and December of each year.

Is that the case for you as well? Check out your database to find the monthly totals and see where your organization fits into this picture. If it applies, then this is a good time to prepare data to help create budgets and gather resources for the upcoming busy season.

So the best advice is to take full advantage of these ‘dog days of summer’ to complete some important tasks that may get lost in the craziness of the season to come. Clean up your database (merge duplicates, run analytical reports and queries) and review what’s going on in the industry. Use it to look at your organization from the outside in. Look at the collective picture of the nonprofit sector to help provide context for your own organization and keep it growing strong and healthy.