Philanthropy Forecast: Same Stuff, Different Year

More than 600 nonprofit volunteers, board members and staff attended The Rome Group’s 2010 Philanthropic Landscape report at Washington University‘s Edison Theatre last month. (Click here to listen to the audio or view the slides.) It’s the nonprofit event of the summer in St. Louis. You could look around the auditorium and it was a who’s who of nonprofit and charities in our town.

There were two significant findings for nonprofit communicators. The Rome Group’s annual survey found that 17 percent of grant makers are willing to fund marketing/communications to raise awareness/funds. the other was that 21 percent of grant makers said nonprofits should market more aggressively.

Amy Rome summarized her presentation with three items:

Nonprofits are competing in a broader universe: Giving to international causes continues to increase. That takes into account the substantial gifts made by the Gates Foundation. But nonprofits must continue to improve their collective ability to effectively tell their stories.

Individuals are where the action is: The St. Louis community is having a difficult time shifting its focus from large corporations to individual giving. Corporate philanthropy once kept the community’s nonprofit organizations adequately funded. Those corporations are gone. Engagement of individual donors is now the name of the game and marketing and communications play a significant role in that task.

It could be a lot worse: The nonprofit community is eternally optimistic. But approximately 40 percent of local nonprofits only have two to three months of cash or reserves. When you’re struggling to keep the doors open, marketing and communications take a back seat. When that happens, the end is near.

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