Americans Continue Long History of Generosity:
By Keith Curtis,
President and Founder
There is no denying it. 2020 has been a challenging year for so many of us. So, on this release day of Giving USA 2020, what is the headline? First and foremost, Giving USA 2020: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2019 shows us that Americans have been and continue to be incredibly generous, contributing almost $450 billion dollars in 2019. This is a record-breaking number on the heels of a decade of unprecedented growth.
Now comes the so what. If your organization has canceled programs, events or performances, seen a dramatic spike in demand for services or had to furlough team members, what role does this report play?
How does this report help you understand charitable giving today?
- A Launching Point: Imagine walking down the street toward a hill. It is a lot easier to make it up that hill if you are running toward it rather than starting from a dead stop at the base. The growth in giving for the year 2019, coupled with a strong first quarter of 2020, is the momentum we need to make it up the hill that is 2020 to date.
- Common Threads: Over the years, we continue to see a rise in the number of giving vehicles, increased giving from foundations and an increased number of mega gifts. We can make reasonable assessment that these trends will continue.
- The Mirror: Over time, giving has reflected the economy. By keeping a close eye on things like the stock market, GDP and disposable personal income, you can keep your pulse on the state of giving.
- Historical Context: While the nation has not faced a pandemic since Giving USA began reporting on charitable giving, we have seen a number of disasters and been through the Great Recession. By analyzing giving during these periods, we see several trends that might help us understand giving today. Big picture during the Great Recession, giving did decrease but rebounded and has since grown to the highest levels on record. We can also see a shift in donor focus during times of crisis. Donors tend to give larger gifts to health and human service organizations during a crisis, and then over time there is a shift back to their original giving focus areas. Your organization should be able to use this context to plan for the future.
How Can You Use Giving Data in Today’s Uncertainty?
Building relationships and engaging your current, past and prospective supporters must be at the top of your to-do list. Americans are generous, even during uncertainty and crisis. Cultivate and solicit strategically and creatively, especially when you cannot meet face-to-face. Individuals continue to give more than 8 out of every 10 dollars (counting family foundations and bequests).
If you want more practical tips and insights about how you can use these key data points during times of uncertainty, sign up to attend this webinar and keep an eye on your email inbox.
If you are looking for additional ways to think about fundraising during uncertain times, we would welcome the chance to discuss this information and how we can partner to use this data and our expertise to grow your fundraising program.