New Research on Campaign Funding and Budgets

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, conducted in January and February and released on March 31, 2009, gathered campaign funding and budget information from nonprofits that have undertaken capital or endowment campaigns within the past ten years.

The study 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. 

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.

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