Wisdom Wednesdays: Latest Giving Trends Mean a Lot for You

by Jon Nelson

nelson-jon-2013-webIn the past few days two interesting and insightful reports on the state of philanthropy have been released by The Chronicle Of Philanthropy and The Nonprofit Research Collaborative.  As you constantly work to improve the efficiency of your development program it is vital to stay apprised of the latest trends related to charitable donations.  Such knowledge can help inform where to direct resources to gain the most immediate support — and sustainable support — for your mission.

With very current data, The Nonprofit Research Collaborative just released their “Nonprofit Fundraising Study — Mid-Year Update: Covering Charitable Receipts at U.S. & Canadian Nonprofit Organizations for January to June 2014.”  The entire study features 38 pages of in-depth data and figures with findings tailored to your region, type of organization, organization size and much more.  It’s a data junkie’s dream and can help you see how your efforts match up.

Their biggest finding was that “52% of responding organizations saw charitable gift dollars rise so far in 2014. Education and arts organizations were the most likely to see growth in funds received. Health and human services were less likely. In this study, 7 in 10 respondents said their organization is on on track to meet fundraising goals for the year.”

Again, this shows that there are big opportunities for you and your organization based on giving trends, and the report illustrates just where these might be for your situation.

Pressed for time?  Can’t read the whole report?  It’s pretty simple to skim and find what you need, but The Collaborative also developed this infographic that boils it down to easy-to digest infosnacks (click on it for greater clarity):


The Chronicle Of Philanthropy posted an article about shifting giving patterns on October 5, “As Wealthy Give Smaller Share of Income to Charity, Middle Class Digs Deeper,” by Alex Daniels.

“As the recession lifted, poor and middle class Americans dug deeper into their wallets to give to charity, even though they were earning less.  At the same time, according to a new Chronicle analysis of tax data, wealthy Americans earned more, but the portion of the income they gave to charity declined,” Daniels said.

Does this mean you should stop working with wealthy donors?  Of course not!  As the article notes, the wealthy have a lot to give and still are giving a lot: “Even though wealthier Americans donated a smaller share of their income, the total amount they gave increased by $4.6-billion, to hit $77.5-billion in 2012, using inflation-adjusted dollars.”

While this data can mean and say many things, the most important points to note are that giving motivations may be changing, and therefore you have a major opportunity to gain more support for your organization if you can determine why these changes have happened.  There’s also the simple fact wealthy constituents have more to give.  Just because they’re giving a smaller percentage in general, that doesn’t mean you can’t go against that trend if you ask the right questions.

Jon Nelson, Beloit, Wisconsin, is Associate Director of ALDE.  He is also Principal of Nelson Business Communications, LLC.


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