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Economy Still Affecting Charities

A GuideStar survey has found that the down economy is still affecting a majority of charities.

Is the glass half full or half empty?

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More than half of charitable organizations have experienced a decrease in contributions between March and May compared to the year-ago period, according to a new survey by GuideStar, which provides information on more than 1.8 million nonprofit organizations.

GuideStar conducted the online survey of 2,279 public charities and private foundations in June. About 4 percent of the organizations were animal related.

The survey revealed that 52 percent of organizations reported a decrease in contributions between March and May, 29 percent reported that contributions remained the same, 18 percent reported an increase in contributions and 1 percent responded “don’t know.”

The results were similar to GuideStar’s previous nonprofit economic survey, which covered October 2008 through February 2009.

“Our latest survey presents both a ‘glass is half full’ and ‘glass is half empty’ scenario,” said Bob Ottenhoff, president and chief executive officer of GuideStar. “On the one hand, the number of nonprofits reporting decreased contributions remained the same as in our previous survey. On the other hand, participants’ comments indicate that their organizations are stretched to the limit. Further, 8 percent still face closure because of financial reasons, and 58 percent report that demand for their services has increased.”

The survey also asked about what kind of measures these organizations have used to reduce their budgets. More than one answer could apply: reduction in program activities/services (54 percent), salary freeze (44 percent), hiring freeze (33 percent), layoffs (29 percent), other (25 percent), salary reduction (23 percent), reduction in employee benefits (21 percent) and reduction in operating hours (16 percent).

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