A recent article in The Nonprofit Quarterly posed the question, “How can we grow philanthropy in the United States?” It’s one that deserves some thought, especially in light of the fact that giving in this country has remained flat (approximately 2% of household income) over the past 40 years. As we highlighted in a post last month, the U.S. remains the world’s most generous country, as well as the wealthiest, which one could argue morally obligates us to also serve as an international leader in charitable giving. This could be measured in a variety of ways, including total dollars donated, percentage of household income given to charitable organizations, and hours spent volunteering.
Given the statistic above as reported by Giving USA 2011, we as a sector (nonprofit staff, foundation leaders, and board members alike) should be doing more to promote and grow philanthropy in this country. The question is: How? Blackbaud recently compiled findings from the first “Growing Philanthropy Summit” held last summer in Washington, DC addressing this very question. The discussions centered around the concept of growing giving by enhancing the quality of the donor experience. The Summit produced many interesting ideas for nonprofits, which fell under four themes:
- Enhancing the quality of donor relationships
- Developing public trust and confidence in the sector
- Identifying new audiences, channels, and forms of giving with strong potential for growth
- Improving the quality of fundraising training and development
Click here to view the full report.
While giving has remained static over the past four decades, the demands on the nonprofit sector have not. Now more than ever, it’s imperative that we as Americans focus on addressing the increasing financial need of the more than 1.5 million nonprofits in this country. Nonprofit professionals play an important role in promoting a culture of philanthropy in the United States. The recommendations in the Blackbaud report provide concrete guidance on how the industry itself can achieve the goal of increasing income from individual donors.