• Using a six-factor model of donations, we estimate the effect on net donations; i.e., donations less fundraising expenditures, of a one percent marginal increase in fundraising expenditures, for each sample nonprofit organization (NPO) from the Nonprofit Times 100 from 2000 to 2002. No prior study of U.S. NPOs estimates the effect of fundraising expense on net donations. We then use these estimates and what we argue is the correct benchmark, the ratio of fundraising expense to donations, to provide evidence, for each NPO, on whether the NPO's level of fundraising is ‘excessive,’ ‘optimal,’ or ‘insufficient,’ relative to the level that maximizes net donations. All prior studies using log-log models use what we suggest is an incorrect benchmark for evaluating NPO fundraising behavior.

  • The estimated effect of a 1% increase in fundraising on net donations varies widely across NPOs in our sample—from an increase in net donations of 0.18% of gross donations to a decrease of 0.66% of gross donations. Of the 76 Nonprofit Times 100 NPOs with usable data in 2002, we estimate that 24 engaged in ‘excessive’ fundraising, 18 engaged in ‘insufficient’ fundraising, and 34 did not engage in ‘excessive’ or ‘insufficient’ fundraising; i.e., we could not reject the null hypothesis of ‘optimal’ levels of fundraising.

Copyright © 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.