Saturday, August 2, 2014

Fundraising Takeaways: Giving USA 2013 Charitable Giving Report

The good news is that Americans contributed $335 billion to nonprofit causes in 2013 - a 3% increase over 2012 - and the expectation is that this trend will continue in 2014.

The bad news is that most nonprofit organizations have struggled over the past six years since the economic downturn simply to raise as much as they did beforehand. Compared to previous recessions, this was quite a long recuperation period.

Wealthy donors were the primary source of this increase. These folks donate out of investments and assets rather than income; stock market gains over the past six years fueled the upsurge in charitable contributions. Their favorite causes - donor-advised funds and colleges - benefitted. Additionally, many donors cut back their giving to an average of five organizations during the recession; now this has bounced back to the more customary five to ten.

Here's a breakdown of how each nonprofit sector fared in 2013:
  • Education: up 7.4%
  • Arts: up 6.3%
  • Public and society benefit: up 7%
  • Animals and environment: up 6%
  • Health: up 4.5%
  • Human Services: up a mere .7%
  • Religion: down 1.6%
  • International Affairs: down 8%
And here are two new strategies that seem to be working around the country:
  • Advertising specifically geared to younger folks: I particularly liked this successful fundraising slogan from the Communities Foundation of Texas - "You don't have to be a billionaire to be a philanthropist."
  • Programs that appeal to a broader range of the community: The Philbrook Museum of Art initiated free admission Second Saturdays plus increased programming for kids including a special MyMuseum box of art supplies, resulting in a big increase in donations from folks making moderately-sized gifts.
And the fundraising takeaways? The fundraising climate has improved, but it remains challenging - so you need to think strategically and creatively. Reach out to new audiences, clients, and donors. Find out what's working for other similar organizations. Develop a plan that addresses fundraising, messaging, and programming holistically - it's all connected.