2012 Annual Fund Survey

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Cynthia Woolbright, President, The Woolbright Group

For the fourth year in a row, we asked your colleagues to respond to a brief survey to track Annual Fund trends as they are experiencing them at their respective colleges or universities. 28 giving officers responded this year. The following summarizes the cumulative results of these surveys from 2009 – 2012.

Betsy Carpenter ’93
Director of the Smith Fund
Smith College

For perspective on any trends suggested by the cumulative results of the Annual Fund Survey, we asked Betsy Carpenter at Smith College to review the statistics and offer comments. When asked if she found any of the data and/or trends surprising, Betsy stated, “I do not find any of the data too surprising. I am struck that in question eight (8. Compared to the last fiscal year, I anticipate our Annual Fund dollars to be in the following range by the end of this current fiscal year) we don’t see anyone projecting increases or decreases of more than 10%. I interpret that as a good sign.”

She continued, “However, I interpret the responses to question one (1. How is your Annual Fund currently doing this year?), as a sign of volatility that is consistent with economic trends. Although more people are ahead than behind, the percentage ahead is significantly less than last year. I think we are in a period of significant uncertainty.”

In regard to response to question nine (9. In terms of online gifts, we are witnessing) wherein 96% of survey participants are experiencing an increase in the number of on-line gifts, Betsy agrees that, “The increase in online giving does seem to echo a greater comfort with doing business online.” She continued that at Smith, “We have probably maxed out the number of electronic solicitations we can send, but we have begun to use social media more and more (including Facebook ads) and that drives donors to give online as well.”

We asked Betsy whether a 1 – 5% increase in overall giving is enough to keep pace with the funding needs of most colleges and universities. And if not, what would be optimal to support the needs of most schools? Betsy replied, “I’m not sure I can speak to the pace of funding needs at other institutions. I know that at Smith, a 4% increase keeps us in line with budget models as currently planned, but over the long term, annual giving has come to represent a smaller portion of the college budget. Ideally, we might get that percentage back up but that is a long-term goal.”

She concludes, “Overall, I think the response, especially to question eight (8. Compared to the last fiscal year, I anticipate our Annual Fund dollars to be in the following range by the end of this current fiscal year) indicates that it has been challenging to bounce back after FY09, and while people were optimistic about a quick turn around in FY09, the reality that it might be a slower climb back up has set in by FY12.”

The Results

1. How is your Annual Fund currently doing this year?

2009 2010 2011 2012
Dollars are the same 7.40% 16.20% 12.00% 20.00%
Dollars are up 22.20% 64.90% 84.00% 64.00%
Dollars are down 70.40% 18.90% 5.00% 16.00%

2. In terms of levels of giving ($1000 or more), we are witnessing:

2009 2010 2011 2012
2009 2010 2011 2012
Increase in total leadership gifts 18.50% 72.20% 70.00% 58.30%
Decrease in total leadership gifts 51.90% 11.10% 5.00% 12.5%
On par with last year 29.60% 16.70% 26.00% 29.20%

3. For the average leadership gift ($1000 or more), we are witnessing:

2009 2010 2011 2012
Increase in average leadership gifts 22.20% 52.90% 40.00% 43.50%
Decrease in average leadership gifts 40.70% 17.60% 16.00% 17.40%
On par with last year 37.00% 29.40% 44.00% 39.10%

4. For leadership gifts of $5,000 or more, we are witnessing:

2009 2010 2011 2012
Increase in dollars 19.20% 55.90% 45.00% 66.70%
Decrease in dollars 46.20% 14.70% 15.00% 0.00%
On par with last year 34.60% 29.40% 39.00% 33.30%

5. For leadership gifts of $10,000 or more, we are witnessing:

2009 2010 2011 2012
Increase in dollars 14.80% 45.50% 49.00% 37.50%
Decrease in dollars 55.60% 24.20% 15.00% 8.30%
On par with last year 29.60% 30.30% 37.00% 54.20%

6. In terms of the number of alumni donors, we are:

2009 2010 2011 2012
Holding steady 11.10% 16.20% 23.00% 12.50%
Donor numbers are up 14.80% 64.90% 44.00% 50.00%
Donor numbers are down 74.10% 18.90% 33.00% 37.50%

7. Of alumni donors solicited, participation for this fiscal year is expected to be in the following range:

2009 2010 2011 2012
Less than 10% 26.90% 5.40% 12.00% 0.00%
10-20% 34.60% 13.50% 26.00% 24.00%
21-30% 23.00% 21.60% 12.00% 20.00%
31-40% 0.00% 32.40% 29.00% 32.00%
Above 40% 15.40% 27.00% 22.00% 24.00%

8. Compared to the last fiscal year, I anticipate our Annual Fund dollars to be in the following range by the end of this current fiscal year:

2009 2010 2011 2012
No growth 11.10% 5.40% 7.00% 12.50%
Decrease by 1-5% 25.90% 5.40% 2.00% 4.20%
Decrease by 6-10% 22.20% 5.40% 0.00% 4.20%
Decrease by more than 10% 22.20% 5.40% 0.00% 4.20%
Increase by 1-5% 7.40% 56.80% 51.00% 54.40%
Increase by 6-10% 11.10% 24.30% 30.00% 25.00%
Increase by more than 10% 0.00% 2.70% 9.00% 0.00%

9. In terms of online gifts, we are witnessing:

2009 2010 2011 2012
Increase in number of gifts 52.00% 77.80% 76.00% 96.00%
Decrease in number of gifts 8.00% 8.30% 5.00% 0.00%
No change 8.00% 8.30% 5.00% 0.00%

10. For the coming year, I anticipate the trend in general annual giving to be:

2009 2010 2011 2012
No change from last year 18.50% 11.10% 7.00% 20.00%
A general increase 14.80% 83.30% 93.00% 72.00%
A general decrease 66.70% 5.60% 0.00% 8.00%

The Woolbright Group’s services include counsel in strategic planning, board development, leadership and team building, capacity building, training in effective fundraising and solicitation skills, and more. For more information, please contact us.

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