Actually, you’re wrong about that…says Giving USA


The latest Giving USA report came out this summer and you may have already seen the results. But if you look more closely at the data or read through the full report, you might actually hear some surprising information. Like the fact that some of your assumptions about fundraising are totally WRONG. Here’s a few:

People don’t donate as much to charity when there’s a political campaign going on.
This isn’t true. Giving USA has not found any decrease in charitable giving during the years of major presidential campaigns (or major mid-term’s, like right now). Donors seem to treat their political giving and charitable giving as two totally separate budgets. The only impact we have seen is a positive one: nonprofits linked to causes supported by the party that is NOT currently in power tend to see a big increase in donations after a big campaign.

If you want big money, you should write a grant.
Not really. Giving USA tells us year after year that 70% of all fundraising dollars come from individual donors. And given that half of foundations are family foundations, and bequests also come from relationships with individual donors, almost 9 out of every 10 gifts is a direct result of a personal relationship with an individual.

Corporate giving is on the rise thanks to Cause Related Marketing.
Cause Related Marketing IS on the rise, but that increases marketing – not charitable giving. Don’t count on corporations giving you cash because just you asked nicely. It’s crucial to remember that most corporations are looking for the best ways to improve their own bottom line. Corporate giving is still only 0.9% of pre-tax profits, so plug into their marketing budget instead.

Donor Advised Funds are more popular than Family Foundations for donors with big money. Not true. Giving USA actually finds that high net worth donors are a fan of both DAF’s and Family Foundations. Sometimes each member of the family has their own DAF where they can make their own giving decisions, and then they come together to decide who gets money from the foundation.

It’s harder to fundraise now than it was before.
No again. I’m definitely a “glass half full” kind of person, but Giving USA helps me to keep that optimistic attitude. Last year over $410 billion was donated to nonprofits in this country! We have more tools, more data, more options, and more manpower than ever. And despite how things might feel on a hard day, the numbers just keep going up.

I hope you have learned something you didn’t know, but hopefully you DO know that YOUR work makes a real difference in our world. I see how much you care, and it shows. Keep it up! And call me when you could use some extra help.

Posted in Giving USA

What You Need to Know about Giving USA 2017

Despite economic and political uncertainly, philanthropic giving still increased in 2016, hitting a record high $390.05 billion. Every year in June, Giving USA releases the “Annual Report on Philanthropy” and provides us with an overall picture of philanthropic giving in the United States. Thanks to Giving USA and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, we have the benefit of analyzing the trends over time since they have done this report for 62 years in a row.

Read on for a snapshot view of the results and what they mean for your organization. You can also download a free copy of the report highlights or check out this fun Infographic below in full size .

Individuals and households play a starring role in overall giving, providing 72% of all contributions. Another 15% is given by Foundations, of which half are Family Foundations. Bequests made up 8% of all giving last year, and Corporations stayed steady at 5% of all contributions.

When you look at which types of organizations receive these gifts, the sector is broken down into 9 categories. The biggest ones are Religion (32%), Education (15%), Human Services (12%), and Foundations (10%). The others each bring in between 3 – 8% of all contributions and include environment/animals, international affairs, arts, culture & humanities, public society benefit, and health. All nine of these subsectors experienced increased giving in 2016, and this has only happened six other times in the past 40 years.

But how can this information actually help you with fundraising? Understanding overall giving over time can help you plan for future fundraising efforts at your organization. For example, these trends can help you:
– be more informed when entering into strategic planning
– incorporate international data into your donor communications
– enhance your case for support showing how your organization compares to national trends
anticipate how developing trends might impact your organization in the future
educate your stakeholders about charitable giving

For a more detailed analysis of these trends, join me at AFP’s Coffee Chat on August 10, 2017. I’ll be presenting a summary of the Giving USA results and facilitating a discussion with development professionals about how to apply this information to our organizations. It’s free to attend, so add it to your calendar now:

AFP Coffee Chat
Fluid Coffee Bar
August 10, 2017
8 – 10am

I hope to see you there!

Posted in Giving USA

Giving USA 2016 in a Nutshell

Have you read this year’s annual report on philanthropy? Well if you haven’t had a chance, here’s what you need to know in a nutshell. Charitable giving has reached an all-time high for the second straight year. Americans gave over $1 billion a day in 2015!

Giving USA is the longest running, most comprehensive report on the generosity of Americans. It reveals patterns and trends over time since they have been gathering this data for over 60 years. Every year this report helps those of us in the nonprofit community pause to celebrate the impact we are having…and then figure out how we can do even more.

But let me share a few more exciting facts:

• Giving by all sources increased in 2015. Individuals gave 71%, Foundations 16%, Bequests 9% and Corporations 5%. When you account for the fact that about half of the Foundations are Family Foundations, it becomes clear that almost 9 out of every 10 gifts made in this country are made by individuals.

• Every recipient category (except Foundations) received increased giving in 2015. The biggest group of recipients is still Religion (32%) followed by Education (15%).

• The charitable sector is enjoying sustained recovery after the recession. In fact, charitable giving is clearly linked to economic factors, almost all of which also improved in 2015.

Corporate giving as a percentage of pre-tax profits remains at only 0.8%, but it used to be as high as 1.4% in 2001. There is room to grow! One note: the contributions given by corporations reflected in this report doesn’t include event sponsorship money that comes out of corporate marketing budgets.

So how do you use this information? I find Giving USA to be very helpful to educate board and staff members about current philanthropic trends. It’s important for anyone involved with nonprofits to understand that 88% of all giving comes from individuals, so you can’t focus solely on grants and corporate giving. And when it comes to gifts from individuals, retention is the name of the game. More than ever before, donors in 2016 will be looking for impact and consider their gifts an investment in the community.

But for now – celebrate! Think about what WE can accomplish with over $1 billion a day going to nonprofits…

Posted in Giving USA