Bentz Whaley Flessner

Best practices, strategies, and tips for fundraising.

Charitable Giving

Giving USA 2017

Bentz Whaley Flessner is excited to report the significant figures announced in today’s release of this year’s Giving USA report. Total charitable giving rose 1.4%, in inflation-adjusted dollars, to an all-time high of $390.05 billion in 2016.

Other key highlights include:

  • While giving has now exceeded pre-recession highs, overall giving grew more modestly in 2016 compared to growth seen in previous years. This decreased rate of growth is at least partially a result of fewer mega gifts ($100M+) made in 2016.
  • All nine recipient sectors saw an increase in giving between 2015 and 2016. Environmental and animal-related organizations saw the largest gain in giving, increasing 5.8% in inflation-adjusted dollars.
  • Giving increased from living individuals (2.6%), foundations (2.2%), and corporations (2.3%). Giving from bequests, however, declined 10.1% in inflation-adjusted dollars between 2015 and 2016. Giving by bequests are historically the most volatile of the sources of giving.
  • Giving from living individuals accounted for 72% of all contributions in 2016, compared to 71% in 2015.
  • Giving as a percentage of GDP remained at 2.1%.

What does this data mean for you and your nonprofit organization? And how do we turn this data into actionable strategies for the year ahead?

  • Monitor economic growth and market health indicators. Historical analysis shows that economic conditions largely drive charitable giving. In 2016, nearly all economic indicators continued a trend of slower growth than that seen in 2013, and the uncertainty of continued growth is expected to continue in to 2017 due to a mix of political and economic factors. Make sure your organization is monitoring the various sectors and incorporate these trends in to solicitation strategies.
  • Corporate giving is evolving. While corporate giving has continued to climb steadily with an increase of 2.2% adjusted for inflation, it still has not reached the pre-recession high seen in 2005. Corporations appear to be looking at new ways of giving like corporate sponsorships and employee volunteer programs, rather than traditional outright gifts and pledges. Review your corporate donors and brainstorm new strategies to maximize the relationship.
  • Modernization of fundraising strategies is working. Fundraising programs that have taken the time to adapt and adopt new approaches are seeing payoffs. For instance, in the past 10 years, many have speculated that arts, culture, and humanities organizations were losing their older constituencies, and at risk. In response to this concern, many of these organizations invested in major gifts programs, more sophisticated uses of data like segmentation, and other innovative practices in response to giving trends. The result has been growth of 5.1% between 2015 and 2016 and healthy double-digit growth between 2014 and 2016 (10.7%). These trends are important to factor in to your organization’s strategy.

Get The Report

Because we highly value your partnership in philanthropy with BWF, we’re happy to offer an exclusive promotional code that will allow you to purchase any of the Giving USA 2017 products at a 30% discount. Use Discount Code: bentz. It’s just one way we would like to say thank you for the confidence you have placed in us.

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