The Fundraising Report 2019 (USA)

The Fundraising Report 2019 (USA)

By SMU DataArts


The SMU DataArts’ Fundraising Report, examines the fundraising efforts of over 2,421 organizations across 11 different arts and cultural sectors throughout the USA. You’ll also see trends for a subset of over 1,888 organisations over the four-year period from 2014 to 2017.

Ever wonder how much contributed revenue to expect for every dollar spent on fundraising?  What do other organisations in the same arts and cultural sector tend to attract from each source of contributed funds?  What are trends in giving, and what characteristics of my community and organisation influence contributed revenue levels?  Do all arts organisations tend to cover a similar level of expenses with contributed dollars, or does it vary by sector, size, and market?

It takes money to make money

The report finds that organisations are spending less on fundraising, and getting less in return per dollar spent. Overall, the amount of contributed revenue generated from every dollar of fundraising expenses went down from $8.80 in 2014 to $8.56 in 2017.

The study also found a vital source of contributions for organisations was the individual donor. Individual donor contributions increased in the past four years. Average individual contributions rose each year – donors were fewer, but they gave more. This could be explained by the average organisation allocating 62.4 percent of fundraising expenses to staff, up from 54.4 percent, which allows for further relationship development with donors.

“Our analysis has shown that when organizations invest more in fundraising, they raise more money, indicating that smart investment is key,” said Dr. Zannie Voss, director of SMU DataArts and professor of arts management in SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts and Cox School of Business. “We encourage organizations to use this report as an effective management tool to set goals, make strategic decisions and contextualize their performance with key stakeholders.”

Recommendations for next steps are provided for report readers and for arts organisations who want to grow. Dr. Voss suggests they:

“Consider an audacious project in the future and galvanize people around it now. The ability to generate excitement among donors now for a project in a future year – multi-year planning – looks to be a key to growth.”

Download the full report


Resource type: Research | Published: 2019