Sunday, July 21, 2013

2013 charity stats from Giving USA

Charity Navigator's blog recently posted some items from Giving USA 2013, an annual report on philanthropy. A few fast facts that I thought were noteworthy, or that some folks might find surprising:

Individuals continue to give the largest percentage (72%) of charitable gifts. Individual giving increased over last year (3.9% increase), as did most other areas of giving (e.g. corporate giving and foundation giving).

The largest areas of giving continue to be Religion (typically, people giving to their places of worship) and Education. The Giving USA report notes that Arts & Culture is the fastest growing charitable cause.

Here's something that gave me pause from the Charity Navigator blog:

Total giving in 2012 was 8.2% below giving in 2007, before the charitable sector felt the effects of the recession. If the pace of growth in charitable giving stays constant in the coming years, giving will not rebound to pre-recession levels until 2018.

2018, people! That feels like a long way off. This somewhat daunting statistic probably is related to this:

Revised Giving USA data shows that total giving as a percentage of GDP has barely strayed from 2% over the past four decades despite the huge growth in the number of charities. This figure climbed to a high of 2.3% in 2000, but otherwise tends to gravitate to 2% of GDP.

So, there are more charities, but charitable giving has not increased as a percentage of GDP. What does this tell us? That, as a nation, we are stingy? I don't think so. Perhaps it tells us that the nonprofit marketplace is "clogged," and starting a new charity doesn't necessarily inspire people who are not giving to start giving (or those who are giving to give more). 

If giving isn't forecasted to return to pre-recession levels for a few more years... what's a nonprofit to do? So many nonprofits with which I work are focused on donor acquisition - attracting new donors who haven't given before. But few are really focused on donor retention - keeping your current donors on board, so they'll keep giving (and will increase their support). If we know that new nonprofits, or causes, aren't necessarily attracting more gifts, I think that (among other persuasive statistics) tell us that it's more important than ever to retain the donors you have, to keep them a "part of the family" and make sure your nonprofit stays relevant to them. 

Read more about these and other giving statistics in Giving USA 2013

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