That's all good, but ...

Giving in the United States reached another milestone in 2015, more than $1 billion per day. Total giving was up 4.1% over the prior year and more than 10% over the past two. While individual giving dropped slightly as a percentage of that total, it still grew by more than $6 billion, or more than 40% of the overall dollar increase.

Which would all seem cause for celebration among a gathering of Kansas City’s leading fundraisers...

It was another full house this morning as Nonprofit Connect hosted its annual presentation of Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy. Published since 1956, it is the longest running annual report on U.S. charitable giving. 

Yet, few of the attendees seemed willing to simply rest on their laurels (or count on an ongoing uptick in the stock market) if the questions after the presentation were any indication.

For example:

Are numbers from Kickstarter, or FundRazr or similar crowdfunding platforms included?

No private or informal giving is included. Unless the dollars go to a 501c3 and are reported to the IRS, they’re not included in this perspective. Neither does this snapshot consider advocacy (e.g., lobbying) dollars or volunteer hours, both of which can justly be considered philanthropic.

What about the 10% increase in the number of nonprofits over the past five years?

While the increase crosses all sectors, there has been particular growth in the number of international causes … which may account for that sector's higher rate of total revenue growth. 

Conversely, some higher dollar donors are beginning to question the wisdom of supporting multiple causes with similar, sometimes overlapping missions. As a sector, nonprofits may be nearing a time of consolidation (think mergers and acquisitions on the private side) driven more by major funders than by the organizations’ own management.

How do we expand giving beyond 2% of Gross Domestic Product?

It’s not simply by looking to younger donors (“Millennials are empirically important, but philanthropically, not so much so,” according to Dr. Patrick Rooney, who presented the findings.) Nor is it simply looking to new media. But it likely involves both as we continue “…selling the dream ... selling ourselves, our mission, our accomplishments.”

The detailed comparisons in this year’s report were not dramatically different than what we heard last year. But there seemed to be considerably more urgency around what-to-do/how-to-implement that perspective.

Thank you, Nonprofit Connect, for continuing to move the conversation forward!