Alexandria, Va. (May 19, 2003) -- Apparently charities are among the groups feeling the pinch of the sagging economy -- only 56 percent of charities were able to reach their fundraising goals in 2002, according to a survey by the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Arts and cultural organizations and religious organizations were hit especially hard, with less than half of those groups able to reach their goals, according to the AFP State of Fundraising survey. In 2002, just over 49 percent of charities raised more money than they did in 2001; a drop of 12 percentage points from last year’s survey results.

While 49 percent of respondents raised more money in 2002 than in 2001, 39 percent raised less, and 11 percent raised about the same amount. Eighty-one percent of respondents rated the economy as having a “great” or “significant” impact on fundraising, and 40 percent cited it as their No. 1 challenge in 2002. The aftermath of Sept. 11 was rated as having “great” or “significant” impact by only 31 percent of respondents, with 42 percent indicating it had “little” or “minor” influence on fundraising operations. Five percent of respondents cited the threat of war, terrorism, and other political issues as the biggest fundraising challenge.

Despite the results, fundraisers are somewhat optimistic about 2003. Forty-five percent expect fundraising to be higher in 2003, while 16 percent expect to see lower results. Slightly more than one-third (36 percent) believe the economy would continue to remain the biggest challenge to charitable fundraising in 2003.

“Most charities were prepared for some of the challenges we’re seeing and have taken steps to ensure they could continue their programs,” said Paulette V. Maehara, president of AFP. “But the unique combination of factors - the economy, terrorism, the armed conflict in the Middle East - has created a new fundraising environment that is unlike anything we’ve ever seen before. These factors are wearing down some charities, and unless there’s an economic rebound in 2003, some groups may be forced to close their doors.”

-- WebCPA staff

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