New Study Analyzes Campaign Budget and Funding Trends
CHICAGO, March 31, 2009 — A study from national consulting firm Campbell & Company and researcher Slover Linett Strategies provides important insights for nonprofits that are examining fundraising expenses and budgets.
The web-facilitated survey of more than 300 nonprofits found that fundraising campaigns during the past decade have provided strong returns on investment, with 68 percent of respondents reporting spending less than a nickel for each dollar raised. The study also found that the majority of respondents were
spending less than five percent of their operating budgets on fundraising.
“This research answers many questions organizations have about how campaigns can be funded, while at the same time confirming the value campaigns provide toward advancing the missions of nonprofit
organizations,” Campbell & Company President Peter Fissinger said.
The survey, conducted in January and February, gathered campaign funding and budget information from nonprofits that have undertaken capital or endowment campaigns within the past ten years. The amount of money organizations spent on their campaigns varied widely, with some paying for campaign expenses out of the existing fundraising budget and others creating a separate campaign budget that hit seven figures or more.
Thirty-seven percent of respondents funded their campaign entirely through the institution’s operating budget – a strategy more common among healthcare and K-12 education organizations than others.
Seventeen percent included the campaign budget needs in the goal. Less common funding sources included the institution’s operating reserves, a designated gift from one or more trustees or donors, or a change in the endowment draw policy or spending plan.
“So many institutions are funding campaigns through their existing resources, and that can place a real strain on the institution,” said Cheryl Slover-Linett, President of Slover Linett Strategies. “There isn’t a lot of room for changing course during the campaign, so nonprofits need to make sure that they
complete formal planning ahead of time and everyone understands the campaign vision.”
In fact, when asked what they would do differently in budgeting or funding their next campaign, 31 percent of survey respondents said they would engage in a more formal campaign planning process, and 23 percent indicated they would more carefully monitor budget expenses. Seventeen percent said
they would budget for additional staff, and 13 percent said they would build budget expenses into the campaign goal from the outset.
Other key findings from the study include:
• Most respondents currently in a campaign reported feeling the impact of the economic downturn. Fifty-one percent said they have extended the campaign timeline, but only 11 percent had lowered the campaign goal.
• The size of the campaigns reported ranged from less than $1 million to $1 billion or more, with a median campaign size of $13 million. Higher education institutions (with a median of $40 million) and arts and culture organizations ($20.3 million median) had the largest campaigns.
• Higher education and arts and culture organizations also reported the largest campaign budgets, with a median of approximately $1 million for both groups.
• The average campaign spending plan budgets 39 percent for staff, 22 percent for consultants and 19 percent for marketing, and the rest for additional costs such as events, travel and office expenses.
Fissinger and Slover-Linett will present the study findings Tuesday afternoon at the AFP International Conference in New Orleans. Both will be available after the presentation to answer questions.
About Campbell & Company
Campbell & Company is a national consulting firm offering advancement planning, fundraising, marketing communications and talent management services for nonprofit organizations in education, health and medicine, arts and culture, environment, social service and professional societies. Through
32 years and thousands of engagements, Campbell & Company has helped nonprofit organizations anticipate and manage the challenges of the philanthropic marketplace. Campbell & Company’s offices are located in Chicago, Boston, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Portland, the San Francisco Bay Area and Washington, DC. For more information, please call 877-957-0000 toll-free, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.campbellcompany.com.
About Slover Linett Strategies
Slover Linett Strategies Inc. is an audience research firm for the culture and education sectors. The firm helps universities, museums, performing arts organizations and other mission-driven nonprofits take a fresh look at their audiences and communities through rigorous market research, program evaluation and data analysis. Based in Chicago, the Slover Linett team includes both PhD social scientists and MBA market researchers who bring a range of academic and business tools to each research study.
Since its founding in 1997, the firm’s big-picture, holistic approach to understanding audiences has benefited renowned institutions in Chicago and around the U.S., including the University of Chicago, the Smithsonian Institution, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Joffrey Ballet and the Art Institute of Chicago. For more information, visit www.sloverlinett.com.