The Blackbaud Institute Index

Your Source for Charitable Giving Trends

Special Edition

As the global COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve rapidly, the social good community finds itself navigating an unprecedented landscape. Organizations are grappling with seismic shifts to their programing: major fundraising events have been canceled, service delivery has been altered to adhere to government guidelines while meeting constituents’ new needs, and many teams have had to rethink how they can work and collaborate in an entirely remote environment. Leaders find themselves needing to respond to an overwhelming amount of unexpected change all at once.

In these trying times, the way your organization adapts to challenges will determine both your current and long-term organizational health. Strong leaders focus on resilience, ensuring the organization can weather a storm while still being positioned for future growth. The Blackbaud Institute Index offers data trends to help you understand the current situation, and we have expanded our reporting to provide the deeper perspective you need to proactively leverage this data.

Tracking more than $34 billion from over 7,700 organizations in U.S.-based charitable giving, the Blackbaud Institute Index is updated each quarter and reports year-over-year percent changes as well as giving to date for the last 12 months. Featuring overall giving trends, the Index can be viewed by organization size and subsector.

Giving trend data is an invaluable tool, but it is only a retrospective that shows us what has already happened. Below, you’ll find best practices that all organizations should focus on, as well as stories from organizations that are finding success as they navigate the new landscape. And remember that charitable giving data is one facet of the philanthropic prism. Always track trends across your full revenue portfolio and target a sustainable funding mix in your long-term plans.

Numbers Overview

2020 Quarterly Overall Charitable Giving

Q1 2020 vs Q1 2019 

-0.2%

Past 12-Months

0.8%*

A look at year over year changes shows an overall increase of 0.8% over the last 12 months. While this provides a glimpse into recent months, we must be prepared for expected shifts in the following quarters as the impacts of various factors like shelter-in-place orders begin to show themselves.

*Last 12 months ending in March 2020

2020 Quarterly Overall Giving Trends by Organization Size

Q1 2020 v Q1 2019

-4.7%

Last 12 Months

1.5%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. In the past 12 months, small nonprofits, with annual total fundraising less than $1 million, experienced a 4.7% decrease in overall fundraising and a 4.9% increase in online fundraising. Additionally, in 2019 small nonprofits continued to set the mark with 14.1% of total fundraising coming from online giving, the highest among all organization sizes.

Q1 2020 v Q1 2019

-1.2%

Last 12 Months

3.2%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. In the past 12 months, medium-sized organizations, with annual total fundraising between $1 million and $10 million, had an increase of 3.2% in overall fundraising and a 7.7% increase in online fundraising. Additionally, in 2019 medium-sized organizations received 7.7% of their total fundraising from online giving. 

Q1 2020 v Q1 2019

1.7%

Last 12 Months

-0.7%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. In the past 12 months, large nonprofits, with annual total fundraising more than $10 million, experienced a 0.7% decrease in overall fundraising and a 4.4% increase in online fundraising. Additionally, in 2019 large organizations received 4.0% of their total fundraising from online giving. 

2020 Quarterly Overall Giving Trends by Subsector

Q1 2020 v Q1 2019

-0.5%

Last 12 Months

7.2%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased 1.0% on a year-over-year basis.  In the past 12 months, the Animal Welfare subsector experienced a 7.2% increase in giving and a 7.9% increase in online giving. In 2019, The average donation amount for Animal Welfare organizations was $273; the average online donation was $60. Animal Welfare organizations received 10.3% of total fundraising from online giving in 2019, positioning them among the leaders within this trend. 

Q1 2020 v Q1 2019

-10.6%

Last 12 Months

-2.6%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. In the past 12 months, the Arts and Culture subsector had an overall 2.6% decrease in giving and an 3.0% increase in year-over-year online giving. In 2019, the average donation for Arts and Culture organizations was $334; the average online donation was $75. Arts and Culture organizations received 10.6% of total fundraising from online giving in 2019, positioning them among the leaders within this trend. 

Q1 2020 v Q1 2019

-4.4%

Last 12 Months

3.2%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased 1.0% on a year-over-year basis.  In the past 12 months, the Environment subsector experienced a 3.2% increase in overall giving and 11.2% increase in online giving. In 2019, the Environment subsector received an average donation amount of $307; the online donation average was $96 and 6.4% of total fundraising from online giving in 2019. 

Q1 2020 v Q1 2019

-4.8%

Last 12 Months

1.5%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. In the past 12 months, Faith Communities experienced a 1.5% increase in giving and a 5.4% increase in online giving. In 2019, the average donation amount to Faith Communities was $319; the average online donation amount was $211. Additionally, in 2019 Faith Communities received 10% of total fundraising from online giving, positioning them among the leaders within this trend. 

Q1 2020 v Q1 2019

5.0%

Last 12 Months

-1.0%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. In the past 12 months, the Foundations subsector experienced a 1.0% decrease. 

Q1 2020 v Q1 2019

-2.5%

Last 12 Months

1.2%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. In the past 12 months, the Healthcare subsector experienced modest growth with a 1.2% increase in overall giving and a 7.9% increase in online giving. In 2019, healthcare organizations received an average donation amount of $417; the online average donation amount was $336.  Healthcare organizations received 5.6% of total fundraising from online giving in 2019. 

Q1 2020 v Q1 2019

-3.9%

Last 12 Months

0.2%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. In the past 12 months,the Higher Education subsector experienced a 0.2% increase in overall giving and a 5.7% increase in online giving. In 2019, the average donation amount to Higher Education institutions was $1,449; the online giving average was $287. Higher Education institutions received 5.6% of total fundraising from online giving in 2019. 

Q1 2020 v Q1 2019

3.4%

Last 12 Months

2.2%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. In the past 12 months, the Human Services subsector experienced a 2.2% increase in overall giving and 12.0% increase in online giving. In 2019, Human Services organizations received an average gift amount of $570; online average donation amount was $190.  Human Services organizations also received 7.2% of all fundraising from online giving in 2019. 

Q1 2020 v Q1 2019

0.3%

Last 12 Months

-5.8%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. In the past 12 months, the International Affairs subsector experienced a 5.8% decrease in overall giving and a 3.4% increase in online giving. In 2019, International Affairs organizations received an average donation amount of $404; the average online donation amount was $84. International Affairs organizations also received 7.4% of total fundraising from online giving in 2019. 

Q1 2020 v Q1 2019

-7.8%

Last 12 Months

2.4%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. In the past 12 months,the K-12 Education subsector experienced a 2.4% increase in overall giving and a 2.4% decrease in online giving. In 2019, K-12 institutions received an average donation amount of $967; the online average donation amount was $1,503. Additionally, K-12 institutions received 10.7% of total fundraising from online giving in 2019, positioning them among the leaders within this trend. 

Q1 2020 v Q1 2019

-4.0%

Last 12 Months

0.0%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. In the past 12 months, the Medical Research subsector experienced a 0.0% change in overall giving and a -5.1% decrease in online giving. In 2019, the average donation amount for Medical research organizations was $729; the average online donation amount was $95. Medical Research organizations also received 7.7% of total fundraising from online giving in 2019. 

Q1 2020 v Q1 2019

4.8%

Last 12 Months

4.4%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. In the past 12 months, the Public and Society Benefit subsector experienced a 4.4% increase in overall giving and a 7.6% increase in online giving. In 2019, the average donation amount for Public Society and Benefit organizations was $236; the online donation amount was $264. Public and Society Benefit organizations also received 5.7% of total fundraising from online giving in 2019. 

Navigating the Current Landscape

  • Consider how your organization is adapting to maximize digital engagement with supporters. With many in-person gatherings cancelled or on hold, organizations across all sectors are being forced out of their comfort zones with digital marketing and engagement. You should embrace this opportunity to maximize their use of social media and digital platforms to stay connected with supporters. If the organization’s doors are shut to the public for the time being, staff should consider how they might be able to deliver some of the same programming and events through Facebook Live or other online platforms. Donors are more understanding than ever before that many are new to these platforms. It’s a great opportunity to loosen the reins and welcome people in however you can.

    Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden is one organization that has embraced this opportunity, developing a virtual Home Safari that has reached nearly 20 million viewers. “The Zoo is comprised of a team that is both focused and nimble. We ground ourselves in our mission of creating adventure, conveying knowledge, conserving nature, and serving community. These qualities and focus that we practice on a daily basis have been activated in refreshed ways during the COVID-19 pandemic,” says Director of Donor Engagement Krista Powers. Read more about Cincinnati Zoo’s strategy in the Stories of Resilience sgENGAGE series.

  • Remember that retention remains one of the most important factors in fundraising success. Donors give because they believe in the organization’s mission and because they believe their gift can make a difference. You should stay focused on communicating the continued value of your mission and stewarding your supporters. By this same token, you shouldn’t be afraid to be transparent with donors about challenges the organization may potentially face due to a crisis situation. Supporters want to know how the causes they care about are faring. Earnest communication about the challenges you will face allows donors to engage and give the support that is needed.

    The Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina has harnessed its supporter base’s commitment to serve community needs. Planning and internal collaboration have been two key elements in the food bank’s ability to efficiently respond to the enhanced spotlight placed on its cause. Samantha Wright, Director of Development Operations and Analytics for the food bank, says that being located in a hurricane zone makes them “no strangers to disaster response” and they tapped into their experience responding to natural disasters to form a crisis blueprint. The crisis planning team has been an instrumental arm of the food bank’s communications. Wright explained how “photos, interviews, and stories are continually fed to the communications team,” which then shares the information with supporters. Learn more about the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina’s approach in the Stories of Resilience sgENGAGE series.

 

For additional resources, visit: https://www.blackbaud.com/covid-19-resources 

The Blackbaud Institute Index provides nonprofit organizations the timely and precise information they need to help make better decisions. The Index provides both a broad-based view of what is happening across the nonprofit sector and in-depth analysis for different types of organizations. We are leveraging data intelligence to help the entire social good sector better understand key trends and insights.

While the numbers shown are updated quarterly, we must look at this data from a multi-year perspective to understand the full scope of giving trends. Since 2017, overall giving has grown by 5% and online giving increased nearly 10% in the United States.

As for online giving, it continues to be a growth engine for fundraising in the nonprofit sector and there is likely a symbiotic relationship between online and offline. In 2019, online giving grew 6.8% year-over-year and 8.7% of total fundraising came from online giving. This is on track with larger online trends, including e-commerce sales. Donor behavior is keeping pace with consumer behavior. To this point, with the proliferation of mobile phones, mobile is now the new normal. In 2019, an estimated 26% of online transactions were made using mobile devices1. With that said, the focus should be on delivering multichannel giving experiences for donors instead of online and offline working in silos.

Economic conditions, natural disasters, and market fluctuations have made it extremely difficult for nonprofits to make fundraising decisions informed by the latest donor behavior. That is why we created The Blackbaud Index — to provide insight into what happened in the prior quarter and valuable analysis by leaders in the sector into what fundraisers can learn from it.

– Chuck Longfield, Founder of Blackbaud Index and Blackbaud Institute Senior Advisor

How We Create The Index

Each quarter, we draw actual giving statistics from the databases of thousands of U.S.-based participating organizations using a variety of fundraising systems to determine how much revenue was raised. We include giving from all sources of fundraising activities: direct mail, telemarketing, face-to-face fundraising, email, online, mobile giving, small- and large-scale events, and major and deferred giving.

We do not include the unfulfilled portion of pledge gifts, but we do include the donated value of in-kind and stock gifts. We include giving from individuals, corporations, and foundations but do not include giving by individuals or corporations to private and community foundations or other intermediaries. To include these gifts would double count the revenue when those organizations subsequently make grants to other nonprofits. We do not currently exclude the value of goods and services provided in exchange for gifts (e.g., the cost of premiums) but hope to in the future. And lastly, we do include adjustments made to gifts (e.g., bounced checks and refunds) to provide a more accurate accounting of real revenues. As a result, you may find that indices values change slightly, as we obtain newly-adjusted data from each organization.

Each organization in The Blackbaud Institute Index is categorized by 1 of 11 subsectors using its National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities—or NTEE code—as reported on its 990 tax return. These subsectors are Animal Welfare, Arts and Culture, Environment, Faith-Based, Healthcare, Higher Education, Human Services, International Affairs, K–12 Education, Medical Research, and Public and Society Benefit. The Index also includes giving to Foundations, but this data is currently not used to calculate giving trends to avoid the potential of double-counting revenue.

We report the Index as a three-month moving median of year-over-year percent changes in giving. We add up all giving for the prior three months and compare this total to the same three months one year earlier to calculate the annual percent change for each organization in our Index.

Why Do This?

An Index based on a moving median is less sensitive to campaign and event timing issues and will serve as a more practical decision-making tool. However, one downside of a moving median is that it can dampen large fluctuations caused, for example, by disaster relief giving.

We adjust the indices to be representative of the nonprofit industry, by size of organization and by industry sector. There are nearly 2 million nonprofits in the United States, and we didn’t want the indices to be skewed by organizations or sectors where Blackbaud had greater representation. Using 990 data, we determined the relative representation of giving by size and sector and adjusted our results accordingly. As such, the resulting indices will be more representative of both specific sectors and the industry.

For More Information

Quarterly updates: To receive quarterly updates on the index straight to your inbox, subscribe to The Source newsletter.
Questions: Contact us at info@blackbaudinstitute.com.
Press: For press and media inquiries, contact: media@blackbaud.com

Benchmarking: The Insight Track to Success

Listen to your data to transform your organization’s strategy. The Blackbaud Institute Index and Charitable Giving Report keep you aware of the trends, and now this guide offers practical strategies for using these resources to introduce benchmarking across your organization. Click here to download the free guide, no email required!