The Blackbaud Institute Index

Your Source for Charitable Giving Trends

As 2021 shapes out, social good organizations continue using innovations that emerged from the last year and a half. Warmer months and outdoor activities have arrived, and along with them comes a renewed spirit of optimism. Leaders are embracing this shift, and they are aligning their operations plans and fundraising strategies to allow supporters to express gratitude and, in some cases, engage in face-to-face meetings and events. But they also continue to incorporate methods of engagement in distanced, virtual, and hybrid formats to ensure they are honoring individual hesitation and community-driven needs.

These dynamic approaches—planning ahead for a return to “normal” while leveraging adaptations from the past year—should continue to serve leaders now and in the foreseeable future. To help you understand how the current landscape affects charitable giving, the Blackbaud Institute Index offers quarterly insights, as well as the context you need to leverage the data as a benchmark against your own efforts.

Tracking over $42 billion from over 8,500 organizations in US-based charitable giving, the Blackbaud Institute Index is updated each quarter and reports year-over-year percent changes and giving to date for the last 12 months. The Index features overall giving trends and can be viewed by organization size and subsector.

For even more in-depth insights on how current and long-term trends can help you on the path ahead, read the 2020 Charitable Giving Report published in February 2021. There you will find further unique data, information on how to benchmark yourself, and insights for many subsectors. Or, watch the recordings of our Giving USA webinar series, held in July 2021, which highlighted subsector-specific insights for arts and culture, faith communities, higher education, and K-12 education.

Giving trend data is an invaluable tool, but it is only a retrospective that shows us what has already happened. Remember that charitable giving data is one facet of the philanthropic prism. Always track trends across your entire revenue portfolio and target a sustainable funding mix in your long-term plans.

Numbers Overview

2021 Quarterly Overall Charitable Giving

Q2 2021 vs Q2 2020

5.8%

Last 12-Months

6.1%*

A look at year-over-year changes shows an overall increase of 6.1% over the last 12 months. As various factors continue to impact different subsectors in unique ways, organizations should also monitor their specific subsector trends.

Additionally, charitable giving experienced a 17.2% increase in online fundraising in the past 12 months ending in June 2021 compared to the previous 12 months ending June 2020.

*Last 12 months ending in June 2021 compared to the previous 12 months ending in June 2020

2021 Quarterly Overall Giving Trends by Organization Size

Q2 2021 vs. Q2 2020

18.4%

Last 12 Months*

0.6%

In the past 12 months ending in June 2021, small nonprofits experienced a 0.6% increase in overall fundraising and an 11.7% increase in online fundraising compared to the previous 12 months ending June 2020.

*Last 12 months ending in June 2021 compared to the previous 12 months ending in June 2020

Q2 2021 vs. Q2 2020

3.3%

Last 12 Months*

1.7%

In the past 12 months ending in June 2021, medium nonprofits experienced a 1.7% increase in overall fundraising and a 21.5% increase in online fundraising compared to the previous 12 months ending June 2020.

*Last 12 months ending in June 2021 compared to the previous 12 months ending in June 2020

Q2 2021 vs. Q2 2020

5.1%

Last 12 Months*

8.3%

In the past 12 months ending in June 2021, large nonprofits experienced an 8.3% increase in overall fundraising and a 16.1% increase in online fundraising compared to the previous 12 months ending June 2020.

*Last 12 months ending in June 2021 compared to the previous 12 months ending in June 2020

2021 Quarterly Overall Giving Trends by Subsector

Q2 2021 vs. Q2 2020

15.7%

Last 12 Months*

8.2%

In the past 12 months ending in June 2021, animal welfare organizations experienced an 8.2% increase in overall fundraising and a 15.5% increase in online fundraising compared to the previous 12 months ending June 2020.

*Last 12 months ending in June 2021 compared to the previous 12 months ending in June 2020

Q2 2021 vs. Q2 2020

4.8%

Last 12 Months*

-0.8%

In the past 12 months ending in June 2021, arts and culture organizations experienced a 0.8% decrease in overall fundraising and a 7.1% increase in online fundraising compared to the previous 12 months ending June 2020.

*Last 12 months ending in June 2021 compared to the previous 12 months ending in June 2020

Q2 2021 vs. Q2 2020

17.1%

Last 12 Months*

-1.8%

In the past 12 months ending in June 2021, environment organizations experienced a 1.8% decrease in overall fundraising and a 21.6% increase in online fundraising compared to the previous 12 months ending June 2020.

*Last 12 months ending in June 2021 compared to the previous 12 months ending in June 2020

Q2 2021 vs. Q2 2020

14.1%

Last 12 Months*

6.7%

In the past 12 months ending in June 2021, faith organizations experienced a 6.7% increase in overall fundraising and a 19.6% increase in online fundraising compared to the previous 12 months ending June 2020.

*Last 12 months ending in June 2021 compared to the previous 12 months ending in June 2020

Q2 2021 vs. Q2 2020

-16.1%

Last 12 Months*

-3.3%

In the past 12 months ending in June 2021, foundations experienced a 3.3% decrease in overall fundraising compared to the previous 12 months ending June 2020.

*Last 12 months ending in June 2021 compared to the previous 12 months ending in June 2020

Q2 2021 vs. Q2 2020

-2.6%

Last 12 Months*

-4.7%

In the past 12 months ending in June 2021, healthcare organizations experienced a 4.7% decrease in overall fundraising and a 6.1% increase in online fundraising compared to the previous 12 months ending June 2020.

*Last 12 months ending in June 2021 compared to the previous 12 months ending in June 2020

Q2 2021 vs. Q2 2020

25.8%

Last 12 Months*

8.1%

In the past 12 months ending in June 2021, higher education institutions experienced an 8.1% increase in overall fundraising and a 9.1% increase in online fundraising compared to the previous 12 months ending June 2020.

*Last 12 months ending in June 2021 compared to the previous 12 months ending in June 2020

Q2 2021 vs. Q2 2020

-17.7%

Last 12 Months*

8.3%

In the past 12 months ending in June 2021, human services organizations experienced an 8.3% increase in overall fundraising and a 22.8% increase in online fundraising compared to the previous 12 months ending June 2020.

*Last 12 months ending in June 2021 compared to the previous 12 months ending in June 2020

Q2 2021 vs. Q2 2020

4.5%

Last 12 Months*

1.7%

In the past 12 months ending in June 2021, international affairs organizations experienced a 1.7% increase in overall fundraising and a 10.6% increase in online fundraising compared to the previous 12 months ending June 2020.

*Last 12 months ending in June 2021 compared to the previous 12 months ending in June 2020

Q2 2021 vs. Q2 2020

15.9%

Last 12 Months*

1.3%

In the past 12 months ending in June 2021, K-12 schools experienced a 1.3% increase in overall fundraising and a 6.0% increase in online fundraising compared to the previous 12 months ending June 2020.

*Last 12 months ending in June 2021 compared to the previous 12 months ending in June 2020

Q2 2021 vs. Q2 2020

25.6%

Last 12 Months*

-3.0%

In the past 12 months ending in June 2021, medical research organizations experienced a 3.0% decrease in overall fundraising and a 7.3% decrease in online fundraising compared to the previous 12 months ending June 2020.

*Last 12 months ending in June 2021 compared to the previous 12 months ending in June 2020

Q2 2021 vs. Q2 2020

-4.1%

Last 12 Months*

2.3%

In the past 12 months ending in June 2021, public and society benefit organizations experienced a 2.3% increase in overall fundraising and a 20.8% increase in online fundraising compared to the previous 12 months ending June 2020.

*Last 12 months ending in June 2021 compared to the previous 12 months ending in June 2020

Navigating the Current Landscape

  • Remember that donor retention remains one of the most critical factors in fundraising success. Donors give because they believe in the organization’s mission and believe their gift can make a difference. Stay focused on communicating the continued value of your mission and stewarding your supporters. By this same token, supporters want to know how the organizations they care about are faring. Don’t be afraid to be transparent with donors about challenges the organization is facing. Earnest communication about challenges allows donors to engage and rise to meet the need.

  • Consider how your organization has adapted to maximize digital engagement with supporters. As social distancing measures were enacted, organizations across all sectors were forced out of their comfort zones with digital marketing and engagement. Continue to embrace social media and digital platforms to connect with supporters. Staff should consider how they might continue delivering and expanding their newfound success across virtual programming and events through such online platforms as Facebook Live. It is an opportunity to consider how you can continue to engage constituents across a myriad of channels.

  • 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 solid data management practices so that all teams can access the information they need.

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 exclude the value of goods and services provided in exchange for gifts (e.g., the cost of premiums). And lastly, we do include adjustments made to gifts (e.g., bounced checks and refunds) to provide a more accurate accounting of actual 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. We do this because 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.

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

We adjust the indices to represent the nonprofit industry by both organization size and subsector. 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. Download the free guide or watch the video.