In the post-recession economy, fundraising has become standard practice for many organizations—particularly for schools and non-profit groups. Federal funding for K-12 education has been cut by almost 20 percent since 2011, about five times more than overall spending cuts. And 31 states provided less funding per student in 2014 than before the Great Recession hit in 2008.
Thus, PTA groups, sports teams and even public education institutions are looking for other sources of income to keep key courses, programs and activities afloat. A shocking 94 percent of schools depend on fundraising to supplement local and federal funds, according to a study by the National Association of Elementary School Principals. And some experts say public universities will need to boost fundraising efforts just to keep their doors open.
What’s more, some states are still reeling from the recession, and have slashed funding for key social programs and services. In many of these cases, non-profit organizations have picked up the slack: In fact, while private-sector employment rates plummeted, U.S. non-profit employment actually grew during and after the recession. These organizations are filling the void left by budget shortfalls—offering cheap clothing and food, transportation for the disabled and seniors and job-training services.
The public is also responding to the increased need for charity. According to the Giving USA 2016 report, overall donations to U.S. charities hit record highs for the second year in a row in 2015. Gifts from individuals made up two-thirds of that overall increase. Education, human services and arts non-profits all saw year-over-year gains in giving last year—not surprising, given the demand in these areas.
And it’s not just the number of people giving that’s changing. Their methods of giving are changing, too. According to Blackbaud’s annual Charitable Giving Report, online gifts increased 9.2% in 2015 over 2014. This makes sense, considering Internet users now make up 88.5% of the U.S. population. In response, non-profit organizations are beginning to focus on soliciting digital donations.
Crowdfunding is one popular online fundraising method. While traditional fundraising often involves targeting lists of current and potential supporters to ask for gifts, crowdfunding allows anyone to create a fundraising page and solicit donations from the entire World Wide Web. Since these platforms broaden the donor pool and are easy to access and set up, their use has boomed in recent years. In fact, there are now more than 1,000 crowdfunding platforms available.
Some fundraising software platforms also allow for peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising. With this approach, organizations teach donors to fundraise for them, asking them reach out to their own networks of friends, family and colleagues to solicit additional gifts.