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Challenging and complex year inspires record growth in giving: $471.44 billion | Expert column


Another great article by our founder Keith Curtis in Inside Business today. Find an overview from Giving USA 2021 and what it means to you in his Expert Column.

I believe nonprofits have an opportunity to improve and grow following this past year. Nonprofits should focus on telling their story and asking for support. It is important that nonprofits understand their organizational history and assess the lessons learned during this past year to understand areas of weakness and opportunity. Nonprofits should then incorporate that information into creating diversity and inclusivity, and maintaining transparency with donors, volunteers and the community. It is also imperative that nonprofits use these lessons learned to plan for future challenges and crises, invest in donor relationships and technology, build an operating reserve and an endowment, and train and diversify staff and board leadership.

As those that support the great work of these nonprofits, donors also have an opportunity, if not a responsibility, to enrich the donation process. The first responsibility is for donors to give where they are passionate. I have seen firsthand the positive and lasting impact of a donation given from personal interest. Passionate donations create a joyful and steadfast giver. Beyond passion, donors also have a responsibility to create awareness, ask questions of the nonprofits and of your community.

Over the last year, we saw a record level of awareness and investment in social and racial justice initiatives as well as a growth in trust-based philanthropy. For example, MacKenzie Scott’s nearly $6 billion given to 464 organizations last year was a prime example of trust-based philanthropy. Her dollars were given without strings or reporting requirements, allowing each nonprofit to identify the best use of the funds. By asking the questions prior to making the donation, you, as the donor, can feel confident that your dollars will be well-used while conveying a message of trust to the nonprofit that they can continue their good and critical mission.

Keith Curtis is founder and president of The Curtis Group, a Virginia Beach-based consulting firm for nonprofits. He is past chair of the Giving USA Foundation and has consulted to more than 200 nonprofits.

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