Overall Giving Trends

Highlights

19%

Three-Year Increase in Overall Giving

Percentage of Contributions in December

Average donation amount

In this section, you'll find

Overall giving in 2021 grew 9% on a year-over-year basis for the 8,635 nonprofit organizations in the analysis. The Charitable Giving Report has reported an increase in giving for multiple consecutive years.

Overall Giving Trends by Size

Fundraising by large organizations, with total annual fundraising of more than $10 million, was up 9.0%. Medium-sized organizations, with total annual fundraising between $1 million and $10 million, had an increase of 8.5% on a year-over-year basis. Small nonprofits, with total annual fundraising less than $1 million, experienced a 9.2% increase in fundraising results compared to 2020. A three-year view of fundraising from the same organizations revealed a 19.1% growth in overall giving. Taking a longitudinal view of giving trends helps provide a more representative perspective of what is happening with charitable giving in the United States. Fundraising across large, medium, and small nonprofits continued to have a positive three-year growth trend.

“2021 represented another positive year of growth and fundraising has increased nearly 20% over the past three years.”

Steve MacLaughlin, Vice President, Product Management, Blackbaud and Senior Advisor, Blackbaud Institute

US Donor Profiles and Behaviors

Using data science and data assets, Blackbaud Target Analytics® is in a unique position to provide key insights into the US nonprofit subsector and its donors. These insights provide answers to some of the most common questions asked by fundraising and nonprofit professionals.

Donor Age

65
Average Donor Age in the US

Long recognized as one of the most reliable predictors of giving, age reflects life experience and correlates to earning capacity and relative debt reduction. More critically, age is just one of many demographic indicators that provides a solid foundation for identifying, connecting with, and stewarding your most valuable constituents.

Since 2016, the average donor age has increased from 62 to 65. This is an indication that the mature donor cohort has demonstrated their reliability when it comes to giving back. However, this is also an indication that nonprofits have not yet fully tapped into the charitable behavior of younger generations. This should be top of mind as loyal mature donors start to age out of the giving pool.

Donor Retention

29%

First-Year, Offline-Only Donor Retention Rate

60%

Multi-Year, Offline-Only Donor Retention Rate

Your organization should calculate your overall donor retention rate annually to assess who chooses to stay in your donor circle every year. While organizations with a high retention rate keep or renew many donors from year to year, those with a low rate must acquire new donors to keep their bottom lines above water. This reinforces the significance of calculating retention to benchmark your internal progress from year to year.

One facet of retention—sustainer giving—is a long-term strategy by which donors regularly commit to giving a pre-specified donation amount. By allowing donors to give the amount of their choice, sustainer programs automatically support retention while ensuring a dispersed revenue source. Returns on sustainer giving are long-term, and the success of your sustainer program relies on excellent retention strategies.

Donation Amounts

$813

Average Donation Amount

$204

Average Online Donation Amount

$20

Median Donation Amount for Gifts Below $1,000

$2,500

Median Donation Amount for Gifts Above $1,000

In addition to these figures, you can better target the right donors—those with the capacity and a propensity to give to your cause—just by knowing more about their spending habits. Resources like the Share of the American Wallet report illuminate trends in spending and the demographic indicators that support organizations in efficiently identifying top prospects.

Overall Giving Trends by Nonprofit Subsector

Each organization in The Blackbaud Institute Index is categorized by one of 12 subsectors using its National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities—or NTEE—code as reported on Form 990. These subsectors are Animal Welfare, Arts and Culture, Environment, Faith Communities, Healthcare, Higher Education, Human Services, International Affairs, K–12 Education, Medical Research, and Public and Society Benefit. Each subsector is weighted based on Giving USA® data to ensure that no individual organization or subsector is overrepresented in the analysis. The Index also includes giving to Foundations, but this data is not currently used to calculate giving trends to avoid the potential of double-counting revenue.

Environmental organizations grew by 19.3% in 2021, followed by Arts and Culture nonprofits with an increase of 15.2%. In total, five of the subsectors experienced double-digit giving growth in 2021 compared to 2020.

2021 Overall Giving Trends by Subsector

Taking a longer view of subsector trends, nonprofit organizations in the Human Services, Environment, and Animal Welfare subsectors have had the best three-year giving trend performance.

Three-Year Rolling Trend

2021 Average Donation Amount by Subsector

Across all subsectors, the average donation amount is $813. This was an increase of 10% from 2020. There is a significant variance among different subsectors. It is attributable to organizations with a larger number of major and principal donations from donors. For example, Higher Education organizations have an average donation of $1,631 compared to $299 for Animal Welfare nonprofits. Nearly every subsector experienced significant growth in average gift amounts in 2021 compared to 2020.

2021 Average Overall Donation Amounts by Subsector*

Overall Giving Trends by Month

Last year was a continuation of multi-year trends in monthly giving patterns. October, November, and December continue to represent 37% of charitable giving, which has been true for many years now. While December remains the largest month as a percentage of giving, June continues to drive giving due to end-of-fiscal year fundraising campaigns.

While a look at year-over-year change provides a glimpse into recent months, we must look at data from a multi-year perspective to understand the full scope of giving trends. Organizations should anticipate growth as they kick off giving days and end-of-year campaigns. Know which months yield the highest giving for your organization and ensure that you are prepared to use these opportunities and maximize your end-of-year campaign.

2021 Overall Monthly Giving Distribution by Subsector

Your organization is likely one of many vying for the attention of supporters during the end of the year, and a thoughtful campaign approach can help you stand out from the asks your supporters are receiving. Most organizations target end-of-year communications toward the supporters who have given in the last three years. You’ll want to be sure that your files and records are in order to execute a seamless campaign. Your message must resonate with your audience while inviting them to once again partner with you by renewing their support.

Download the Charitable Giving Report

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Where to next?

See the highlights of this year’s report and how you can make the most of the information to enhance your strategies.

In this section, you'll find:

  • Executive Summary of Findings
  • How to Use a Benchmark
  • About the Report and Blackbaud Institute Index
Read More

Learn more about how online giving performed last year.

In this section, you'll find:

  • Online Giving Trends by Size
  • Fundraising from Online and Mobile Giving
  • Online Giving Trends by Subsector
  • Online Giving Trends by Month
Read More

Get a glimpse into how international giving trended in 2021.

In this section, you'll find:

  • Canada Giving
  • United Kingdom Giving
  • Australia/New Zealand Giving
Read More