Posted , by Kaitlin Robb, Consultant and Marketing Director. Topic: Donors, Fundraising, Giving USA, Philanthropy Research & Events.

How to Meet Our Moment in 2024: Recent Trends in Philanthropy


By Kaitlin Robb, Consultant and Marketing Director

At The Curtis Group’s December team meeting, Dr. Una Osili from Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy joined us virtually to discuss changes in the philanthropic landscape. Dr. Osili is a global expert on philanthropy and widely recognized as one of the most influential people in the nonprofit sector. Among her numerous leadership positions, she leads the research and publication of Giving USA, the longest running, most comprehensive report on philanthropy in the United States. Members of our firm serve both on the Giving USA Foundation board and the editorial review board for Giving USA.


Dr. Osili painted a hopeful picture for nonprofits emerging from the pandemic. Nonprofits are now more resilient, creative, and innovative than ever. Donors, too, met the moment through record-breaking generosity. Here are a few highlights from our conversation with Dr. Osili, and how you can use the latest data to push your nonprofit ahead in 2024.


  • The Economy – When adjusted for inflation, 2020 and 2021 are the two best years of giving on record, according to Giving USA. Although giving declined slightly in 2022, it remains the second highest year on record. In 2022, inflation, the threat of recession, and the volatility of the stock market drove economic uncertainty and impacted household giving. While some of these variables continued into 2023, Dr. Osili noted lowering inflation and regains in the stock market toward year-end as signs for hope heading into 2024. (See Key Take Aways of Giving USA 2023Giving USA’s next annual report will be available this June).                                                                                                                                                   
  • Donor Households – In 2018, for the first time on record, we saw fewer than 50% of average American households giving to charity (Philanthropy Panel Study, 2001-2019). The ongoing decline of everyday donors continues to raise concerns across the nonprofit sector. However, giving among high-net-worth individuals remains strong. Bank of America’s recent 2023 Study of Philanthropy: Charitable Giving by Affluent Households found that 86% of women and 85% of men give to charity. Women are leaders in philanthropy, and donors from affluent households are demographically diverse. These households give to charity at high levels, regardless of race or ethnicity:
    • 82% of Black/African Americans
    • 78% of Hispanic/Latino
    • 79% of Asian American
    • 87% of Caucasian/White 
  • Giving Vehicles – Donors increasingly use giving vehicles to maximize their contributions and impact on the nonprofits they support. These include Private (Family) Foundations, Donor-Advised Funds (DAF) or planned and estate giving instruments. Bank of America’s 2023 study found that more than 15% of high-net-worth African Americans use (or plan to use) a planned giving instrument, compared to between 6.3% and 7.9% of white (non-Hispanic), Hispanic, and Asian donors.

If you’re interested in learning more about Bank of America’s study, look for our blog post where we will share findings and further analysis based on an upcoming presentation our President Keith Curtis will make on the report.

  • Trust in Nonprofits – Nonprofits appreciate higher levels of trust from Americans than many institutions, including the government and business. Do donors trust your organization? Trust in your nonprofit goes hand-in-hand with a donor’s decision to give. Increasingly, donors are demonstrating their high levels of trust by giving unrestricted, multimillion dollar gifts and eliminating reporting requirements, which in the past diverted staff attention from mission-driven work. (See Trust Based Philanthropy in Action.)
Do these trends resonate with your nonprofit? How can you apply this research to your day-to-day work? Here are a few ideas:
  • Familiarize yourself with the variety of giving vehicles. While you should not give tax or financial advice, being conversant about giving vehicles is often enough for you to encourage donors to explore options with their CPA or financial advisor based on their unique circumstances. When our clients do this well, we love witnessing donors’ joy (and sometimes amazement) in their ability to make a larger gift than they previously thought was possible. (See Navigating the Range of Giving Vehicles.)
  • Data shows donors trust nonprofits. Trust and transparency go hand-in-hand. Are recent impact or annual reports easily accessible on your website? Do you disclose financial statements or your 990? Do your donors know how their money is being spent—and the powerful impact it is making on your organization and mission?
  • As you start the new year, make sure you have a clear plan to engage your donors across all levels. (See Three Ways to Start Your Year on the Right Foot.) Regular, thoughtful updates and personalized outreach are key to maintaining healthy, long-standing relationships with your donors. Strive to have genuine, meaningful interactions that center the relationship and individual, not the dollars they give. This is the difference between transactional and relationship-driven fundraising—and a key ingredient to fundraising success. 
The Curtis Group is grateful to Dr. Osili for sharing valuable insights with us—and for the opportunity to apply recent studies on philanthropy to help you further your mission. 
What is one thing from the above list that you could incorporate into your fundraising strategy for 2024? We would love to support you and grow your donor pipeline.
Reach out to The Curtis Group, and let’s brainstorm together!
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