While many local non-profit organizations have seen charitable contributions decrease sharply in 2009, local development directors are getting creative in 2010 by thinking out of the box.

Faced with a diminution in revenues due to a downturn in the economy, many non-profit organizations be­gan cutting back expenditures in an effort to achieve their fiscal goals. But they are also planning creatively.

Norm Wedderburn, President and CEO of the South Florida chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, reported a decline in revenue of 17% but is being inventive with their 2010 fundraising initiatives. “We are creating partnerships with local corporations to reach out to their customer bases. Furthermore, Make-A-Wish has begun applying for grants.”

Currently, grants comprise 5% of Make-A-Wish revenue, but Wedderburn hopes to increase that percentage this year. “All we need to do is convince the people overseeing these grants to donate the money to us.”

Mark Adler, SunServe’s Executive Director stated that “By July 2009, charitable contributions to SunServe were down 30% from 2008 while at the same time, the demand for services increased by 30% and clients were less able to pay for the services they received.”

Mark Bode of Florida AIDS Walk froze their yearly fundraising goal instead of increasing it. Bode states, “Based on the economic climate and that fact that many corporations have either eliminated not only financial support, but also in-kind support, we froze, rather than increased our goal of raising $400,000 this year with the Florida AIDS Walk”.

To compensate for the loss of sponsorship dollars, the organization has built coalitions and broad network bases with other community nonprofits to raise awareness of their cause in South Florida.

Bode states, “To continue to provide the much needed and valuable services in the South Florida region, the Florida AIDS Walk will try to expand the number of walkers in this awareness and fundraising campaign, and encourage participants to meet and/or exceed the requested minimum of $25 in sponsorships.”

Sports, auction, and art seems to be a popular theme for fundraising. The Make-A-Wish is promoting its next fundraiser as “The Ultimate Sports Extravaganza”, calendared for February 25 at the Westin Diplomat. This past weekend, the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital sponsored the Tour de Broward, a run, ride, and walk for kids.

Wedderburn is bringing in a South Florida icon as a special guest. The events will be hosted by Don Shula, the former Miami Dolphins coach, who led the team to a perfect season and Super Bowl championship in 1972.

Broward House, another local AIDS service agency, fresh off the heels of its successful SMART ride, is bringing comedienne Sarah Bernhard to the Broward Center for the Performing Arts this month. In April, they are resurrecting the once incredibly popular ‘Art for AIDS’ auction at the Signature Grand Mansion, hosted by Center One.

According to the Chro­nicle of Philanthropy, which documents cha­ritable fundraising nationwide, December brought mixed results for most groups. Non profits generally reported significant drops in their revenues. Fiscal managers suggest that this will lead to spending restraints in the months ahead. Not every agency suffered, however.

Catholic Charities USA, which operates a Wilton Manors church and was one of the first local charities to aid in the Haitian relief effort, reported their donations jumped 21% in December 2009, as compared with 2008.

Patricia Hvidston, Senior Vice President of Catholic Charities, attributed the increase “in part to advertising in magazines and in New York’s Times Square.”

The Chronicle of Philanthropy also suggested that donors are willing to still give, but just may be waiting longer to do so. A third of the nearly 400 nonprofit groups polled said donations last November were higher than they had been at the same time in 2008.

Economic downtown or not, local companies are still finding ways to give back to their community. FastPrintz, a South Florida-based printing company, has spent the last few months working closely with the Stonewall Library & Archives, developing money saving techniques.

The President of FastPrintz, Victor Flores, stated, “In combination with saving Stonewall money on their print, direct mail, sign and graphics needs, we would like to further support our community by preserving our history.” Flores noted, “We believe that a community is as strong as what its members put into it.”

Chad Thilborger, Development Manager of the Stonewall Library lauded their efforts, calling FastPrintz “exceptional.” To help meet the fiscal crunch for the Stonewall Library, Thilborger has also partnered with national corporations such as State Farm, American Express and Comcast. In addition, the Stonewall Library currently has five touring exhibitions, which will help generate revenue this year.

The main goal of the Stonewall Library and exhibitions is to educate today’s LGBT youth. “In order to get future generations involved in our community, we need to educate them,” states Thilborger. “What we do is not sexy, but it’s critical.”

And whether you are raising money to save books, or children’s lives, those efforts take money to achieve their goals.