Let the Reviews Begin!

Blackbaud recently released its 2014 Charitable Giving Report, the self-proclaimed "largest analysis of overall and online giving data in the nonprofit sector."

That claim is based on the number of organizations (4,798, up 16% from 2013) and amount of revenue ($16.2 million, up almost 30% from 2013).

While some of the insights offered may not be groundbreaking ("Nonprofits must continue to focus on both donor acquisition and retention to drive sustainable growth."), the sheer volume of data demands some respect. In addition, it's one of the earliest, most authoritative perspectives on how the nonprofit sector performed in 2014.*

Some trends worth noting:

  • Overall giving increased 2.1% (down from its 4.9% pace of 2013). This was somewhat lower for large organizations (1.3%) and higher for small organizations (5.8%).
  • Online giving showed a greater increase (8.9%, also down from the 13.5% of the prior year) Again, this was somewhat lower for large organizations (8.0%) and higher for small organizations (10.6%).
  • Online giving grew to 6.7% of overall giving (from 6.4% in 2013).
  • For the third consecutive year, December continued to shrink as a percent of total annual giving (from 18% in 2012, to 17.5% in 2013 to 17.4% in 2014).

I think this final observation is interesting for several reasons.

Hopefully it speaks to the efforts organizations are making throughout the year to build ongoing support. This has been particularly noticeable in the increasing emphasis on monthly giving programs.

It may also foretell the consequences of the arms-race-like competition among fundraisers - especially online fundraisers - during the end-of-year giving period. Blackbaud has not yet published its stats on end-of-year activity, but I anticipate trends similar to what was reported in last year's benchmark report: more total emails and more versions of those emails.

For online fundraisers, the impact of the fourth quarter fell significantly, from 35.4% in 2013 to 32% in 2014.

How can you use industry trends to fine tune your development efforts?

*Note: In the early assessment department, Paypal has reported that it saw an increase in donations processed of nearly 50% this past December. However that's likely more reflective of the increase in mobile payments - or the effectiveness of its 1% match - than an overall increase in giving.