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Charitable giving is UP for the second straight year!

Charitable Giving On the Rise for Second Consecutive Year

The numbers are in… 2015 was another record-setting year for charitable giving. According to the recently released Giving USA 2016: The Annual Report of Philanthropy for the Year 2015*charitable giving topped $373.25 billion in 2015, making it the highest single year of giving to date. The annual report is a publication of Giving USA Foundation in partnership with Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.According to the much-anticipated annual report, total giving grew 4 percent in 2015 (when adjusted for inflation) representing an increase of $14.21 billion over 2014. It’s the sixth consecutive year of charitable giving growth. That’s great news for nonprofits.“If you look at total giving by two-year time spans, the combined growth for 2014 and 2015 hit double digits, reaching 10.1 percent when calculated using inflation-adjusted dollars,” said Giving USA Foundation Chair W. Keith Curtis, president of nonprofit consulting firm The Curtis Group, Virginia Beach, Virginia. “But these findings embody more than numbers—they also are a symbol of the American spirit. It’s heartening that people really do want to make a difference, and they’re supporting the causes that matter to them. Americans are embracing philanthropy at a higher level than ever before.”

Charitable Giving: By The Numbers

Here’s a look at some of the other findings from the report:

  • Charitable contributions from all four sources – individual giving, foundation giving, charitable bequests and corporate giving – increased in 2015, with those from individuals once again leading the way in terms of total dollar amount, at $264.58 billion.
  • Not only did individuals give the most; by upping their 2015 gifts 3.8 percent when measured in current dollars (and 3.7 percent when inflation-adjusted), they were responsible for two-thirds of the year’s overall increase in total giving.
  • Of the nine charitable sub-sectors—religion, education, human services, foundations, health, public-society benefit, arts/culture/humanities, international affairs and environment/animals—all but one (foundations) had growth in charitable donations over 2014.
  • Giving to religion still ranks first in terms of total donations received (32%), more than double the next highest sector (education). At $119.30 billion, 2015 religious giving increased 2.7 percent in current dollars.
  • Giving to International Affairs saw the highest percent increase over 2014 (17.5 percent in current dollars). As the report points this significant increase may be due to the growth in the number of active international charitable organizations; use of more strategic fundraising methods; and increased focus on international issues among foundations.

The report details a variety of other interesting findings that are worth the read. You can download the full report or a free highlights report here. *Giving USA 2016: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2015, a publication of Giving USA Foundation, 2016, researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Available online at the Giving USA store.

Small nonprofits get a five-star rating for their mission.

Small Nonprofits: How Do You Stack Up?

So your nonprofit isn’t as big as the United Way or Goodwill, but you’re still doing good work. But all the Big Research that you could compare your organization to is based on the big-budgeted, big-named orgs… how can small nonprofits measure up? What’s the best way to reach out to your donors in a way they’ll be receptive to? How do they prefer to give?Today we’re taking a look at another aspect of the Individual Donor Benchmark Report (IDBR), which takes a deep dive into the data of small nonprofits (anywhere from $5,000 to $500,000). And one of the biggest things they’ve discovered is that online giving presents a HUGE opportunity for you.The “Individual Donors” studied in this report generate about 36% of a nonprofit’s budget, giving an average of $435 apiece. (About half of that was “major” gifts over $1,000.) While gift size certainly varies by the size, focus, and organizational strategy of a particular nonprofit, that’s still money you want to ensure makes it into your budget.

Online Giving is Massive for Small Nonprofits

Now the big news: among nonprofits surveyed, the average growth in online fundraising between 2013 and 2014 was 403%. That’s incredible!Nonprofits with under $5,000 in online revenue are at the head of the class, with 1,083% growth in online giving from 2013 to 2014. While organizations with new online giving programs are the most likely to experience such explosive growth, even the 25% growth experienced by larger organizations is nothing to scoff at. That’s an amazing benefit to offering an online giving option to your donors!

bar graph showing the growth in the average online donation between 2013 and 2014 for four categories of small nonprofits
When your donors prefer to give online, you make sure it’s an option!
The average nonprofit is currently raising about 17% of its revenue online, and that number is growing every day. With the rate of growth mentioned above, it’s in your best interests to devote some resources to the exploration and development of an online giving program such as GiveCentral.

Recurring Donors Give More

Once you’ve got an online giving program in place, offering recurring giving options is a no-brainer. Letting your donors set up weekly, monthly, quarterly, or even annually-recurring gifts makes it incredibly easy for them to keep giving in the ways they prefer to give.  Letting them plan ahead lets you plan ahead, knowing that at least some of your revenue is essentially guaranteed. (more…)

It's National Volunteer Week! How are you celebrating your volunteers?

Three Cheers For Volunteers

Mark National Volunteer Week with an Appreciation Activity

National Volunteer Week, April 10-16, offers a chance for you to show your volunteers how much you appreciate them and value the work they do for your organization.It’s no surprise, volunteers are the backbone of nonprofit organizations. Volunteers help with fundraising, lend their expertise to your organization and help spread the word about your mission. They fuel your programs and services and help you fulfill your mission.  In short, you wouldn’t be where you are today without them.National Volunteer Week is the perfect time for you to praise your volunteers and show your gratitude.  Here are some simple ideas to help you get your ideas flowing:  

Send a note of gratitude.  

A simple thank you note goes a long way.  Show your appreciation by sending volunteers a handwritten, personal note.  In today’s world of texts and emails, a handwritten note will stand out.   

Host a thank you coffee or cocktail reception.  

Invite volunteers to come together to raise a glass in celebration of their hard work.  But don’t stop there, you may want to consider hosting the gatherings on a quarterly basis.  Consider giving each volunteer in attendance a small token of your appreciation.  

Showcase volunteers.  

Spotlight volunteers and the incredible work they do by including features on them in upcoming newsletters, bulletins and/or on your website.  Show  volunteers some love and let them know how valuable they are to your organization.  Small gestures like these can go a long way to fortifying these important relationships. Want more inspiration?  Points of Light – the world’s largest organization dedicated to volunteer service – is the host of National Volunteer Week.  Visit their website for free National Volunteer Week resources.

Start your plan early!

Why Your Fundraising Plan is Critical in 2016

As the development director at a “small but mighty” nonprofit, Heather Yandow was interested in data to back up her fundraising plan.But while she was looking at reports and surveys to compare her organization to, she realized that the data from many reports like GivingUSA just surveyed the big guys… where the smallest organization they surveyed had a budget of $5 million.Now, if your budget is only 10% of that and you’ve got just one part-timer working on multiple fundraising projects at once, how can you compare your success?Realizing that research and information directed toward smaller nonprofits just didn’t exist, her studio later initiated a survey that would become the Individual Donor Benchmark Report (IDBR), answering questions similar to those she’d had herself.Now in its third year, the IDBR has become a reliable resource for smaller nonprofits (meaning those with a budget under $2 million), giving you the data you need to compare yourself to organizations with similar resources as you have. With the kinds of data contained in the IBDR, you can really see where you’re doing well and where you have opportunities for growth.

We Hold These Truths

With the data collected over the past few years, theIDBR has found some universal truths that have carried over from year to year. First, the single most important thing you can do as a small nonprofit is to make a plan. The single thing that really mattered, through all the data, was whether an organization has a fundraising plan. The plan is what ties everything together, makes the data correlate, and shows you just where your money comes from… or where it could be coming from.The second universal truth demonstrated by the IDBR is that there is a HUGE opportunity in online giving. Organizations with new online giving programs have the potential for massive, almost exponential fundraising growth, and even established programs saw 25% growth from 2013 to 2014. Online giving is one more channel through which your donors can give, and you’re missing out on that stream entirely if you’re not ready to maximize online gifts.

Choose Your Own Adventure

Understanding very well how much a difference in budget can affect a nonprofit’s fundraising ability, the IDBR offers benchmarks for organizations with varying amounts of revenue. Compare your own organization, at a glance, to small (under $200K), medium (up to $499,999), large (up to $999.999), and super (up to $2 million) organizations, with a nice “average” category included for good measure. For example, the average nonprofit raises 36% of their revenue from individual donors, but the various categories range from 25% to 57%.You can compare your numbers by total dollars raised, number of gifts, and even break things down by the issue your nonprofit seeks to address. Be reassured, though… every size of organization saw double-digit percentages in revenue growth between 2013 and 2014!The IDBR also looks at fundraising strategies and challenges, including a Fundraiser’s Wish List. Unsurprisingly, the top wish was “more help for fundraising activities,” and the number 2 item was a wish for more time to spend with donors.

It’s All in the Plan

The data expert at Third Space Studio collected the survey results from 87 different nonprofits and found that the ONLY thing that really matters is whether your organization has a fundraising plan. Everything else, no matter how well-intended, was “no better than a crap shoot” without a plan. And who wants to shoot crap, anyway?Two-thirds of the organizations polled say they have a fundraising plan, and using it at least “sometimes.” And the difference between the haves and the have-nots is significant. The IDBR found that there’s no correlation between staff time and revenue, or fundraiser salary and revenue, or number of donor meetings and revenue… unless you have a plan.It’s that plan that is key to your fundraising. The survey results show that “for every $1 more you pay your primary individual donor fundraiser, you are able to rase another $4.25.” So all you need is a plan to recoup that expense more than fourfold? Yes, please!With a plan, you can expect a full-time individual donor fundraiser to bring in about $280,000. With a plan, individual donor meetings can yield over $5,000 in increased donor revenue. With a plan, you are simply able to raise more money. So what are you waiting for? Get planning!There’s so much more in the IDBR that it might be overwhelming to try to sum up in one blog post. Check back here soon for more info on recurring giving, online giving, technology, communication, and even the people who make it all happen, or visit Third Space Studio to download your own copy of the Individual Donor Benchmark Report.Happy planning!

mixed group of business people standing in a hallway and chatting

Developing a Winning Conference Participation Strategy

by Bridget Mayer, Director of Business Development at GiveCentralNow that the seasons have officially changed, many of us have started to enjoy fall’s perennial offerings, including cooler temperatures, beautiful changing leaf colors and of course, a caramel apple or two.Fall also ushers in a very busy time of year for more than just pumpkin patches. For nonprofit and religious administration managers, along with many leaders at for-profit businesses, the start of autumn marks the start of the busy conference season. Many of us will travel near and far to attend annual gatherings over the next several months, juggling the responsibilities of our day jobs with the inherent craziness of conference participation.Developing a winning conference participation strategy is key to ensuring you take full advantage of all the conference’s benefits. Here at GiveCentral, we’ve spent last week connecting with industry colleagues new and old at the Diocesan Fiscal Management Conference (DFMC) and are busy preparing for National Catholic Development Conference (NCDC) which starts October 4th.Since we’re in the thick of it, we wanted to share some advice on developing a winning conference strategy to help you make the most out of your conference participation:Identify your goals before you arriveYou need to choose the conferences that will give you and your business the best ROI in terms of your goals. It’s important to come prepared with established participation goals and that your any participants from your organization understand these goals.

What do you want to get out of the conference? How many leads/connections are you looking to generate? Are you focusing on promotion/branding or do you have a product to demo?

You can have more than one goal, of course, but the point is that you need to be clear about what your participation in the conference is going to achieve. Determine what your ROI would be—if one new customer helps you justify you being at the event, then focus on connecting with as many participants as possible in order to unearth and connect with that customer.For example, many of the attendees at DFMC are finance and accounting-focused professionals who are focused on learning how to best cut down the costs associated with managing their organization’s capital campaigns. We looked to connect with the attendees to inform them about how, without breaking the bank, our electronic giving systems allows users to get comprehensive donor functionality to easily:

  • Manage donor relations
  • Access donation activity
  • Run reports/managing donor accounts
  • Send and manage donor communications

In the booth, we conducted live demonstrations of our GiveCentral Go technology, our easy-to-use card reader for mobile devices, which is perfect for off-site donor events. In addition, for those that received our pre-conference email, made a donation to Catholic Relief Services and visited our booth, we gladly matched their gift right there in the booth using GiveCentral Go!

GiveCentral's tradeshow booth before the opening of NCDC 2013
Our booth at NCDC 2013 – pardon our old tagline!
For the upcoming NCDC, our focus will be to connect development directors whose priorities differ from a CFO. Tending to be the end users and executors of the ins and outs of giving programs, their goals are zoned in on how they can best save time with giving logistics and enhance their programs—both of which are right up GiveCentral’s alley!Carve out time to build connectionsBuilding personal relationships are a key benefit of conference participation. Conferences are ripe for connecting with potential customers, but it’s also a time to build on the relationships you already have. If you know people that you want to reconnect with or get to know better who will be attending—clients, vendors, friends-of-friends—reach out a few weeks before the conference to set up a time to meet for coffee or a meal while you’re at the event.That’s what we did for DFMC. These one-on-one conversations allow us the opportunity to understand donor needs and to talk about how GiveCentral has worked with hundreds of church and diocesan offices as well many non-profit organizations to help them meeting that challenge via electronic giving.Friendly follow-upRemember that the conference doesn’t end with the closing session. In fact, in most cases this is when the important relationship building and sales work starts. You need to keep your business at the front of your prospects’ minds by staying in touch after the event. This increases the chance of converting your leads into sales.Following DFMC, we’ll be following up with all the great connections we made via personal emails, phone call and/or face-to-face meetings. We’ll also be looking to share a copy of our upcoming survey GiveCentral: 2015 Predictions for Giving which is set to launch in early October. Our goal with the survey is to better understanding donor giving preferences and the role technology increasingly plays in non-profit donations. Once launched, the survey will be accessible from our home page at www.givecentral.org.Pay it forwardYou gained a lot of new information, inspiration and contacts at the conference, now it’s time to share the knowledge with fellow colleagues, prospects and clients. For example, send clients and prospects, especially if they couldn’t make the conference, links to session videos or presentations you thought were particularly valuable. This knowledge share is a great value-add to any relationship.No matter what your fall schedule has in store for you, we hope this advice on developing a winning conference participation strategy proves valuable. And if you’re headed to NCDC, we look forward to seeing you!