U.S. Charitable Giving Officially On the Rise

2011 is now history and the good news appears to be that U.S. charitable giving is on the upswing. While many organizations are remaining silent as to their individual successes, or failures, industry service providers are announcing solid gains and general optimism about the state of giving.

Both Blackbaud and Convio – two of the largest providers to the industry – are among the many announcing a strong finish to 2011.

Blackbaud went even further, saying “… fundraising has returned to pre-recession levels. Through the first 11 months of 2011, overall giving is up 3.4% over 2010, and is now officially above the level of giving last seen in 2007.”

Online giving continues to grow, though perhaps not as strongly as was predicted a few years back.

According to Blackbaud, for the three months ending in November, the channel increased by 12%, as compared to the same period in 2010. And Convio reports their clients ” … raised 17 percent more online in the last three months of 2011 than in 2010. But, the real impact was made in December when our client’s year-end fundraising efforts came on like gangbusters …”

Perhaps the most optimistic of all are the results released yesterday by The Atlas of Giving (free registration required), who said: ” … total giving to U.S. nonprofits rose 7.5% in 2011, an increase of $24.2 billion over the 2010 total of $322.69 billion and its forecast shows that overall giving is expected to grow 3.9% in 2012 to $360 billion.”

The Atlas results show:

  • Individual giving grew 7.8% to $260.18 billion accounting for 75% of total giving.
  • Corporate giving grew 6.4% to $17.57 billion accounting for 5% of total giving.
  • Foundation giving grew 6.2% to $44.73 billion accounting for 13% of total giving.
  • Bequests giving grew 7.5% to $22.69 billion accounting for 7% of total giving.

Of particular interest, the Atlas report indicates particularly strong growth in four states, Pennsylvania (+13.1%), Illinois (+12.5%), Florida (+0.9%) and Texas (+10. 0%).

As always, the success of fundraising drives varies across the organizational landscape. Rob Mitchell, Atlas of Giving CEO, tells us, “Overall, we’ve enjoyed a strong resurgence in giving. However, it’s important to remember that different economic factors are tied to giving at different nonprofits, different donor types, and different geographies. Some do well, others don’t. Because high unemployment disproportionately affects small gift donors, some very large nationwide nonprofits who rely on many small gifts from individuals continue to struggle in this economy. The effects of high unemployment are long-lasting. Giving after re-employment does not resume for several years as these individuals satisfy postponed expenses like replacing and maintaining cars and other household items. Universities are doing well because alumni are not struggling with unemployment and major gift donors are giving from assets and not income.”