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News & Press: Member Insights

Charitable Giving Up Nearly 2% in 2015

Tuesday, March 15, 2016   (0 Comments)

By Steve MacLaughlin, Director of Idea Lab, Blackbaud

Blackbaud just released its latest Charitable Giving Report, which provides the largest analysis of real fundraising data from more than 5,300 nonprofit organizations in the United States. The report represents more than $18.2 billion in total fundraising data and $2.2 billion in online fundraising from 2015.

In it, they reveal that overall giving in the United States increased 1.6% and online giving grew 9.2% in 2015 compared to 2014. The report shows fundraising is beginning to level out, as well as illustrating continued growth in digital giving trends, particularly mobile donations.

Giving Growth Rates


Giving to International Affairs organizations went from a decline in 2014 to the largest growth percentage in 2015. This was primarily driven by the episodic giving in response to a host of natural disasters: the Nepal earthquake, Typhoon Komen that impacted Myanmar, Bangladesh, and India, as well as flooding in India, Malawi, and Mozambique.

The overall giving data shows a leveling out from higher growth rates in 2014 across the nonprofit sector. Faith-based nonprofits grew 3.9% and Healthcare organizations grew 1.9% on a year-over-year basis. Both Arts & Culture and Environment & Animal Welfare sectors grew 0.5% compared to 2015. These nonprofits had higher growth rates in prior years but slowing growth is not unexpected. For example, Public and Society Benefit nonprofits grew over 9% in 2014, yet it had a decline close to 1% in 2015.



In that case, fundraising did technically decline, but it’s important to note that it did so after coming off of an extremely good growth rate the previous year.

Strong Online and Mobile Giving Growth

2015 was another big year for digital fundraising. For the second consecutive year, online giving to Higher Education institutions grew the most, with a 15.2% increase. K-12 Education schools, Environment and Animal Welfare, and International Affairs sectors also experienced double-digit online fundraising growth in 2015. International Affairs’ growth in online giving was largely driven by donations in response to natural disasters. On a broader scope, online continues to be the first response channel of choice for donors.

The Charitable Giving Report also reveals other changes in the digital fundraising landscape. Nearly 14% of online transactions were made using a mobile device in 2015. That is not only an increase over 2014 but also a key indicator that providing donors with a mobile-friendly experience has never been more important. Nonprofits that ignore the importance of mobile do so at their own peril.

Android might have the biggest share of the smartphone market, but Apple devices dominate when it comes to donors. The data shows that 43% of mobile transactions are made on an iPad, 42% using an iPhone, 14% on Android devices, and less than 1% using other devices like Blackberry and Windows Phone.

The New Normal

Charitable giving has recovered from the recession, and we are perhaps seeing a new normal in overall giving trends. Many nonprofits are still growing, especially in their digital fundraising programs, but at reduced levels than in 2014.

The key is for all episodic donors to be retained for the long-term by International Affairs organizations. Other sectors must continue to focus on the right mix of donor acquisition and stewardship activities.

The growth of digital giving also means nonprofits must continue to optimize the online experience for donors. Mobile giving is now over the tipping point and can no longer be ignored. Email and social media continue to drive digital giving, and there is no reason to believe this trend won't continue for the foreseeable future.

The continued growth of giving will have a lot to do with how nonprofits engage and build lasting relationships with donors. The 2015 Charitable Giving Report can help nonprofits compare their own performance against similar organizations and help with planning in 2016.


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