Campaigns, Strategic Planning

BWF is excited to report the findings of this year’s Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy.

Presented by the research team at The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and the fundraising professionals at Giving USA Foundation, The Giving USA report is the longest-running, most comprehensive report on philanthropy in the U.S. BWF is a proud member of The Giving Institute.

The 3 major themes that emerged from this year’s Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy were:

  • Total giving reached $410 billion, an increase of 5.2 percent over 2016.
  • Nearly all categories of recipient charities and all four sources of giving rose.
  • Financial markets also posted strong growth – the S&P up 19.4 percent – suggests even greater potential.

Additional key highlights include:

  • Giving by corporations was up by 8 percent and experienced a bump from corporate gifts to disasters.
  • Giving to foundations increased by 15.5 percent.
  • International affairs, however, had a 4.4 percent decline in giving.
  • Arts, health, and public-society benefit organizations had a growth rate between 7 and 9 percent. Both Community Foundations and Public-society benefitted from continued growth in giving to Donor Advised Funds.

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?

Catch the wave. Since the Great Recession, philanthropy has been shifting up the giving pyramid. While we have seen the number of donors decrease, the dollar amount from high net worth donors has increased. Nonprofits that are investing in major gift fundraising infrastructure have been able to capitalize on this surge in large donations. Now is the time to invest in pipelines to support major gift fundraising. Whether by creating a new framework or reexamining existing processes, your organization can optimize its efforts.

Don’t leave money on the table. With a 19% increase in wealth, the environment appears prime for a subsequent increase in giving to follow. However, the current increase in giving over last year was 5%, which lags behind the strong increase in wealth we have seen. This indicates that organizations are not maxing out the potential that donors have to give. But how can your organization tap into the untouched pool of capital? By understanding who your donors are, what they care about, and their giving capacity, you can begin to unlock the possibilities of your donor base.

Back to business. There is no doubt that philanthropy is driven by various externalities. While factors that lie outside of your organization’s jurisdiction such as GDPR, tax reform, and the philanthropic environment are incredibly important to take into consideration when making decisions, it is important to not neglect what is in your control. By building a solid business model, thinking creatively about how to engage donors in new and exciting ways, and diversifying revenue streams, your organization can take its fundraising to the next level.

Together, we transform philanthropy.