A recent fundraising survey by Guidestar shows small signs of economic recovery within the non-profit sector, particularly for the largest organizations. More organizations reported an increase in contributions over the previous year, and fewer organizations reported a decrease in contributions.

Any recovery is modest, however. Non-profits across the country are still trying to do more with less, as the demand for their services has increased in recent years while overall contributions have decreased.

Guidestar surveyed more than 2,300 public charities and 160 private foundations, and 68 percent reported an increased demand for their services in 2010. Local non-profits have experienced the same: When Barnes Dennig conducted its biennial Compensation and Benefits Study in 2009, 70 percent reported an increased demand.

According to Guidestar’s survey, which is conducted annually, 36 percent of organizations reported that contributions have increased in 2010 compared to the same time period in 2009. During the 2009 survey, only 23 percent of organizations reported an increase over 2008.

Meanwhile, 37 percent reported a decrease in contributions compared to 2009; 51 percent reported a decrease from 2008 to 2009. So even though more organizations are losing contributions than gaining contributions (37% to 36%), the gap is not as wide as it was a year ago (51% to 23%). It could be a sign that the tide is turning.

During our most recent Compensation and Benefits Study, 33 percent of respondents anticipated greater revenues in 2010, 30 percent anticipated declining revenues; 24 percent anticipated adding staff members in 2010, 17 percent anticipated decreasing their staff.