The Blackbaud Institute Index

Your Source for Charitable Giving Trends

As 2020 continues to unfold with rapidly evolving challenges and change, the social good community finds itself navigating an unprecedented landscape. The global COVID-19 pandemic has forced organizations to grapple with seismic shifts to their programming, from canceling major fundraising events to working remotely to altering service delivery in adherence to government guidelines while meeting constituents’ new needs. Broad efforts behind social movements like Black Lives Matter have brought renewed attention to equity issues, both for the communities you serve and within organizations themselves. A season of destructive fires and hurricanes has kept environmental issues top of mind. And the 2020 presidential election has brought greater focus to headline issues like healthcare and immigrant rights. Social good 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. The effects of this year’s many changes will continue to play out for some time. Strong leaders focus on resilience, ensuring the organization can weather the storm while still being positioned for future growth. The Blackbaud Institute Index offers data trends to help you understand the current situation. We have expanded our reporting to provide the perspective you need to leverage this data proactively.

For even more in-depth insights on how current and long-term trends can help you on the path ahead, read our State of the Social Sector Series published in August 2020. The series includes reports with unique data insights for the Arts and Culture, Faith Communities, Healthcare, Higher Education, and K-12 Education subsectors.

Tracking nearly $30 billion from over 7,100 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 will find best practices that all organizations should focus on and 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

Q3 2020 vs Q3 2019 

-0.3%

Last 12-Months

2.2%*

A look at year over year changes shows an overall increase of 2.2% over the last 12 months. As various factors continue to impact different subsectors in unique ways, organizations should also monitor their specific subsector trends. Check out the State of the Social Sector report for more insight.

*Last 12 months ending in September 2020 compared to the previous 12 months ending in September 2019

2020 Quarterly Overall Giving Trends by Organization Size

Q3 2020 vs. Q3 2019

-9.0%

Last 12 Months

-4.4%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased by 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. Small nonprofits continued to set the mark with 14.1% of total fundraising coming from online giving, the highest among all organization sizes. See the 2019 Charitable Giving Report for more.

In the past 12 months ending in September 2020, small nonprofits, with total annual fundraising less than $1 million, experienced a 4.4% decrease in overall fundraising and an 18.0% increase in online fundraising. See the State of the Social Sector report for more insight.

Q3 2020 vs. Q3 2019

-2.8%

Last 12 Months

1.5%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased by 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. Additionally, in 2019 medium-sized organizations, with total annual fundraising between $1 million and $10 million, received 7.7% of their total fundraising from online giving. See the 2019 Charitable Giving Report for more.

In the past 12 months ending in September 2020, medium-sized organizations had an increase of 1.5% in overall fundraising and a 19.7% increase in online fundraising. See the State of the Social Sector report for more insight.

Q3 2020 vs. Q3 2019

3.8%

Last 12 Months

4.6%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased by 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. Additionally, in 2019 large organizations, with total annual fundraising of more than $10 million, received 4.0% of their total fundraising from online giving. See the 2019 Charitable Giving Report for more.

In the past 12 months ending in September 2020, large nonprofits experienced a 4.6% increase in overall fundraising and a 7.2% increase in online fundraising. See the State of the Social Sector report for more insight.

2020 Quarterly Overall Giving Trends by Subsector

Q3 2020 vs. Q3 2019

16.2%

Last 12 Months

2.5%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased by 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. 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. See the 2019 Charitable Giving Report for more.

In the past 12 months ending in September 2020, the Animal Welfare subsector experienced a 2.5% increase in giving and a 15.8% increase in online giving. Check out the State of the Social Sector report for more insight.

Q3 2020 vs. Q3 2019

-6.6%

Last 12 Months

2.3%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased by 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. 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. See the 2019 Charitable Giving Report for more.

In the past 12 months ending in September 2020, the Arts and Culture subsector had an overall 2.3% increase in giving and a 4.3% increase in year-over-year online giving. Check out the the State of the Arts and Culture Subsector report and the Giving USA 2020: Arts and Culture Trends webinar for more insight.

Q3 2020 vs. Q3 2019

0.9%

Last 12 Months

0.8%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased by 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. 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. See the 2019 Charitable Giving Report for more.

In the past 12 months ending in September 2020, the Environment subsector experienced a 0.8% increase in overall giving and a 9.7% increase in online giving. Check out the State of the Social Sector report for more insight.

Q3 2020 vs. Q3 2019

-2.2%

Last 12 Months

0.2%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased by 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. 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. See the 2019 Charitable Giving Report for more.

In the past 12 months ending in September 2020, Faith Communities experienced a 0.2% increase in giving and a 24.0% increase in online giving. Check out the State of the Faith Communities Subsector report and the Giving USA 2020: Faith Trends webinar for more insight.

Q3 2020 vs. Q3 2019

-14.0%

Last 12 Months

-1.6%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased by 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. See the 2019 Charitable Giving Report for more. In the past 12 months, the Foundations subsector experienced a 1.6% decrease.

Q3 2020 vs. Q3 2019

-16.2%

Last 12 Months

-0.5%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased by 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. 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. See the 2019 Charitable Giving Report for more.

In the past 12 months ending in September 2020, the Healthcare subsector experienced a 0.5% decrease in overall giving and a 6.2% increase in online giving. Check out the State of the Healthcare Subsector report and the Giving USA 2020: Healthcare Trends webinar for more insight.

Q3 2020 vs. Q3 2019

-7.0%

Last 12 Months

-5.2%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased by 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. 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. See the 2019 Charitable Giving Report for more.

In the past 12 months ending in September 2020, the Higher Education subsector experienced a 5.2% decrease in overall giving and a 3.7% increase in online giving. Check out the State of the Higher Education Subsector report and the Giving USA 2020: Higher Education Trends webinar for more insight.

Q3 2020 vs. Q3 2019

4.1%

Last 12 Months

9.5%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased by 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. Human Services organizations received an average gift amount of $570; the online average donation amount was $190.  Human Services organizations also received 7.2% of all fundraising from online giving in 2019. See the 2019 Charitable Giving Report for more.

In the past 12 months ending in September 2020, the Human Services subsector experienced a 9.5% increase in overall giving and 26.5% increase in online giving. Check out the State of the Social Sector report for more insight.

Q3 2020 vs. Q3 2019

-6.5%

Last 12 Months

3.2%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased by 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. See the 2019 Charitable Giving Report for more. In 2019, International Affairs organizations received an average donation amount of $404; the average online donation amount was $84. International Affairs organizations received 7.4% of total fundraising from online giving in 2019.

In the past 12 months ending in September 2020, the International Affairs subsector experienced a 3.2% increase in overall giving and a 0.5% increase in online giving. Check out the State of the Social Sector report for more insight.

 

Q3 2020 vs. Q3 2019

-11.6%

Last 12 Months

-1.1%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased by 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. 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.  See the 2019 Charitable Giving Report for more.

In the past 12 months ending in September 2020, the K-12 Education subsector experienced a 1.1% decrease in overall giving and a 2.9% decrease in online giving. Check out the State of the K-12 Subsector report and The State of the K-12 Education Subsector: Navigating in a Time of Uncertainty webinar for more insight.

Q3 2020 vs. Q3 2019

-19.5%

Last 12 Months

-10.6%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased by 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. 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. See the 2019 Charitable Giving Report for more.

In the past 12 months ending in September 2020, the Medical Research subsector experienced a 10.6% decrease in overall giving and a 25.3% decrease in online giving. Check out the State of the Healthcare Subsector report and the Giving USA 2020: Healthcare Trends webinar for more insight.

Q3 2020 vs. Q3 2019

-9.3%

Last 12 Months

3.6%

In 2019, overall charitable giving in the United States increased by 1.0% on a year-over-year basis. 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. See the 2019 Charitable Giving Report for more.

In the past 12 months ending in September 2020, the Public and Society Benefit subsector experienced a 3.6% increase in overall giving and a 0.5% decrease in online giving. Check out the State of the Social Sector report for more insight.

Navigating the Current Landscape

  • Consider how your organization is adapting to maximize digital engagement with supporters. As social distancing recommendations continue to keep many in-person gatherings on hold, organizations across all sectors have been forced out of their comfort zones with digital marketing and engagement. You should embrace this opportunity to maximize social media and digital platforms to stay connected with supporters. If the organization’s doors remain shut to the public, staff should consider how they might be able to deliver some of the same programming and events through Facebook Live or other online platforms. It is an 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 had reached nearly 20 million viewers by late spring. “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 essential factors in fundraising success. Donors give because they believe in the organization’s mission and 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. 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 needed support.

    The Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina has harnessed its supporter base’s commitment to serving community needs. Planning and internal collaboration have been two elements in the food bank’s ability to efficiently respond to its enhanced spotlight. 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 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 fed to the communications team,” which then shares the information with supporters. Learn more about the Food Bank of Central & Eastern North Carolina’s in the Stories of Resilience sgENGAGE series.

     

  • Stay connected across teams so you can respond with agility. While you may still be working remotely, it has never been more critical for all teams across your organization to stay in sync. Your capacity for embracing innovative solutions to new challenges will rely on your team’s ability to stay connected. Now is the time for leaders to focus on transparency and communication. If it isn’t already part of your regular cadence, consider incorporating emails or video updates from leaders to keep staff engaged and on the same page. Continue to focus on strong data management practices so that all teams can access the information they need.

    From the beginning of the year, Annie Wright Schools has embraced innovation to stay agile in responding to the pandemic. Professional development has long been a focus and expectation across Annie Wright Schools, positioning them well to embrace a new professional challenge. Jen Willey, director of communications at Annie Wright, noted, “Our faculty didn’t seem to blink and quickly adapted, but also remained flexible in changing what wasn’t working…[They] naturally seemed eager to learn new technology platforms, processes, and ways to engage our students.” Throughout the year and as they’ve developed fall term plans, Annie Wright has also focused on strong communication with its community, providing weekly newsletters and regular updates to parents, teachers, and faculty. See more on how Annie Wright Schools is staying connected 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.

How We Create the Blackbaud Institute Index

Each quarter, we draw actual giving statistics from the databases of thousands of U.S.-based participating organizations using various 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.

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 Institute 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 Institute Index and Blackbaud Institute Advisory Board Member

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 did not 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!