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Quarterly Industry Report

Issue: 10/2018

Opportunity: Workplace Giving App Eases Donation Process - San Francisco-based startup Bright Funds has developed a mobile giving app designed to streamline the donation-match process. Nonprofit Quarterly (NPQ) notes that the platform, recently profiled by TechCrunch, can significantly improve donation match programs that typically involve cumbersome, bureaucratic paperwork for both corporations and individual donors. NPQ cites research indicating that corporate donation-match programs can lead to increased employee engagement and recruitment, which in turn may help companies attract top talent. Bright Funds charges companies a fee per seat, as well as a transaction fee to cover the cost of payment processing. It claims that companies using its app have seen employee donations to nonprofits rise 40%. Unused corporate matching gift funds can total up to $10 billion every year, with only an estimated 9% of employees participating in such programs, according to Double the Donation, an organization that helps non-profits grow their matching gift revenue. Bright Funds is the latest iteration of a lineup of workplace giving platforms that includes MicroEdge, Cybergrants, Benevity, and YourCause.

Industry Impact - Nonprofit organizations looking to modernize their fundraising technology and increase corporate matching donations should consider workplace giving apps such as Bright Funds.

Critical Issues

Dependence on Economic Conditions - Charitable contributions typically shrink in difficult economic times. Donations from individuals, estates, foundations, and corporations in the US reached an all-time high of more than $390 billion in 2016, the third year to exceed the previous peak set before the late-2000s recession. Even nonprofits with large endowment funds suffer in down economies, because their investment income depends on the state of the financial markets.

Dependence on Big Donors - Many nonprofits depend on a few major donors for a large share of revenue. Big donors may declare an intent to continue contributions, but few nonprofits have binding contractual assurances. In down economies, some donors who previously had made multi-year promises may be unable to fulfill them when the value of their financial assets declines.

Business Challenges

Recruiting and Retaining Qualified Staff - Barriers to securing key nonprofit leaders include work-life balance concerns, insufficient lifelong earning potential, lack of mentorship and training, and overwhelming fundraising responsibilities. During periods of economic prosperity, nonprofits are likely to experience increased staff turnover.

Competition for Resources - The number of US nonprofit organizations grew by 3% over a recent 10-year period, and the number of public charities grew by 20%, according to the National Center for Charitable Statistics. This proliferation of charities can result in the duplication of services, a drain on individual nonprofits' funding resources, and an increased demand for experienced nonprofit managers and staff.

Seasonal Cash Flow - Many nonprofits raise a majority of their income during the last quarter of the year, when donors are often in a more charitable mood and large donations may be made for tax reasons. Organizations can mitigate this seasonality by boosting fundraising efforts at other times of year.

Business Trends

Public Confidence and Transparency - More nonprofits aim to build public trust by drawing up stiff codes of conduct and appointing ethics officers. Others are creating donors' bills of rights that assure contributors access to information about their finances. Nonprofits are being encouraged to conduct annual ethics audits and are beginning to require CEOs to certify their organizations' annual financial statements.

Purchased Fund-raising Lists - Letter, email, and telephone fundraising campaigns increasingly rely on donor lists bought from other organizations. Large national nonprofits often sell access to their donor lists to smaller nonprofits. Additionally, many nonprofit organizations exchange donor lists with other nonprofits. Brokers and list managers have become sophisticated at building lists that target potential donors according to desirable demographic characteristics.

Charity Gaming - Most states in the US allow nonprofits and charities to raise donations through some form of gambling. Rules can vary from state to state, but in jurisdictions where it is legal charities can run bingo games, pull-tabs, raffles, or even casino-style games such as blackjack and roulette. Success can depend on how well the games are organized and run. Competition from casinos, state lotteries, and other forms of legal gambling can have a negative impact on charitable gaming.

Industry Opportunities

Favorable Demographics - Older people and their estates represent a significant portion of the donor base for many nonprofits. Americans 65 and over are the fastest-growing segment of the population, projected to increase by more than 50% between 2015 and 2030. Many older Americans have both the inclination and the means to make larger charitable contributions.

Internet Donations - Many nonprofits have made it easy for donors to contribute over secure websites. Consequently, online giving has joined more traditional channels as a mission-critical part of the fundraising mix. Donating online is often more efficient than offline and can help charities reduce administrative costs. Nonprofits seem to have the most success when they combine traditional appeals, such as direct mail, with the option to give electronically.

Social Networking - Some nonprofits are creating and maintaining profiles on online social networking sites to recruit new staff members and volunteers, engage audiences interested in their cause, build supporter lists, and raise money. Some of the most popular social networking sites include Facebook and Twitter. Nonprofits may also use professional online networks, such as LinkedIn, and issues-focused networks, like Change.org.


Copyright 2018, Hoover's Inc., All Rights Reserved. This data cannot be copied, sold, or distributed in any manner without the written permission of First Research.

Industry Growth Rating

Demand: Tied to special interest and social service need

Need strong fundraising skills and name recognition

Risk: Economic health affects donation levels

Industry Forecast

Domestic demand for nonprofit institutions is forecast to grow at an annual compounded rate of 4 percent between 2018 and 2022. Data Published: September 2018

Not-For-Profit Industry Forecast Bar Graph
Not-for-Profit Growth Projection Scale - Medium
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