2011 Forecast: Some cautious optimism at nonprofits

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Charitable contributions at some nonprofits are up; at others, it’s down. That’s why the 2011 forecast for the nonprofit arena is mixed.

Demand for services has increased — especially at organizations that help low-income or unemployed people.

At Pikes Peak United Way, for instance, demand is higher than it’s ever been at the 2-1-1 Call Center, which is fielding an average of 150 calls per day. The 2-1-1 center, which was established in 2004, has seen 10 to 15 percent growth each year for several years, said David Frauhiger, chief financial officer for the local United Way.

Some of that growth, of course, is attributable to more community awareness of the call center and the services it offers; however, high unemployment and a down economy have added to the need for services.

The Nonprofit Research Collaborative November 2010 fundraising survey showed that for 2,500 nonprofits across the nation, charitable gifts were down at 37 percent, while gifts were up at 36 percent. They remained steady at the other 26 percent.

The United Way was among those that saw giving rise, though only slightly. Its 2010 campaign raised $5.5 million, about $100,000 more than 2009.

“There is some cautious optimism that things will get a little better,” said Dave Somers, executive director of the Center for Nonprofit Excellence. “I certainly don’t see that it will get any worse.”

Earlier this month, donations for the Colorado Gives Day campaign in Denver totaled more than $5 million, far more than organizers expected. And the Colorado Springs Indy Give Campaign is on target to exceed what was given last year.

Somers said these campaigns are good indications of what some organizations could expect for donations in the new year.

Still, budgets are likely to hold steady or tighten, as nonprofits try to conserve what they can in case the economy continues to struggle.