A recent article in the Wall St Journal suggests that they can, in the USA anyway.
The Chronicle of Philanthropy says Americans are the most generous contributors on the planet, giving 2% of our annual GDP or twice as much as the next closest nation the UK. Americans give about $300 billion to non-profits annually. The bulk of that – 84% – goes to religious and educational institutions. Think of the progress in medicine that might be possible if those numbers were different.
Medical foundations that raise money for research into everything
from cancer to heart disease to diabetes would be in a much better position to fund advances that could save lives – at no cost to the public sector.
Complicating that is the taboo on marketing in such organizations. Dollars donated are supposed to be dollars that go directly to the affected party, such as research patients or research programs.
Fundraising consultant James Greenfield estimates that, for major gifts, every 10 cents spent on fundraising produces, on average, a dollar back. For direct-mail solicitations, the cost is 20 cents per dollar back. For special events, 50 cents. Investment in fundraising and marketing multiplies the money put into it.
A fresh look at research non-profits may be in order. The September 15th
article from the WSJ is available at: