Giving USA is the longest running annual philanthropy report and is published by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University. This report is trusted by nonprofits across the country and helps the sector make strategic decisions about fundraising. It provides important statistical information about the economy, charitable dollars, and trends in the nonprofit industry. What did the most recent report on 2019 giving have to say? How is the 2019 data still relevant despite all the changes of 2020?  Below is a brief summary.

The report continues to reinforce that individuals are the primary source of charitable dollars in the United States. And building relationships with individuals also impacts Foundation and Corporate giving, so focusing activities and efforts on individuals makes a lot of sense. With 2019 bringing another record year of giving, $449.64 billion in fact, individuals still make up the greatest percentage at 79% (including 10% from bequests).

While individuals are still at the core, we should also pay careful attention to other avenues of individual giving such as foundations, bequests, and donor-advised funds. The more you know and understand your donor, the more you can cultivate and steward funds, providing opportunities for giving that are meaningful to them.

Some key findings:

  • 79% of funding is from individuals (which includes bequests). While this has changed considerably since the first findings in 1980 (with 89% from individuals, including bequests), the increase in Foundation giving (only 6% of the total giving in 1980) has made up that difference.
  • 16% of funding is from Foundations which is comprised of independent, family, community, and operational foundations. Giving by family foundations (essentially individuals) is estimated to be 46% of total foundation giving in 2019.
  • 5% of funding is from corporations.

It will be important for nonprofit organizations to pay close attention to, and build relationships with, foundations as wealth continues to stay concentrated among high net worth donors. Though the dollars continue to increase, the overall number of donors continues to decline.  Much of the individual giving comes from high and ultra-high net worth donors.  So, though it is important to broaden your base of supporters and diversify your approaches, spending significant time with individual major donors to your organization remains critical.

Another important trend is the continued growth of monthly/recurring giving. Connected to that is the fact that 50% of nonprofit websites are viewed through a mobile device, with 25% of online gifts made on a mobile device. If monthly giving is not a priority or your website isn’t extremely mobile friendly, it’s time to take some major steps in that direction!

Though 2020 has seen a tremendous amount of change and uncertainty, donors have historically responded to crisis – and we trust they will continue to do so. Giving is expected to grow, particularly to organizations working in health and social justice. There are certain long-term trends that have held steady and are again represented in the 2019 results. Though the uncertainty with the economy, political landscape, and giving overall is reason to be cautious, we also regularly see the people of our communities rise up to support nonprofits when they need it most – and we think now we’ll see that more than ever before.

Our favorite lines from the report on the relevance of 2019 data for 2020 and beyond:

Philanthropy is not just about generosity; it can also be about activism. Rather than simply supporting causes because ‘that’s what we always support,’ donors today are aligning their philanthropic support with measurable and demonstrable impact. Do not use the current climate as reason to pause asking for gifts and garnering support. The generosity of the American people is both profound and consistent.

To purchase Giving USA 2020: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2019, visit this link.