6 Notable Numbers for Nonprofits from the 2014 Giving USA Report

By eleventy marketing group

Total giving to nonprofits 2003-2013The past decade has been a rocky one for nonprofit organizations. There have been high highs and low lows. But new statistics from Giving USA reveal nonprofit fundraising numbers are close to returning to pre-recession levels earlier than expected.

In today’s post, we’ll take a quick trip through fundraising past, present and future. We’ll explore some key figures from the Giving USA 2014 report and touch on a few key things nonprofits need to keep in mind moving forward.

The Tumultuous Past and Road to Recovery

For nonprofits, one of the top factors influencing donor giving is the economy. It makes sense. The more money people have to give, the more they will give. Preservation of self and family typically come ahead of helping others.

So when the Great Recession hit in 2007, nonprofit organizations took a major hit. Giving numbers suddenly saw a sharp drop, with nonprofits losing billions in donor dollars. It was significant enough that it led many nonprofits to cut staff and services, or fold altogether.

The official recession (as charted by economists) lasted from 2007-2009. But the ripples of this deep recession, and the slow recovery and fear of a repeat recession from companies and consumers, kept giving numbers flat in 2010 and 2011 as well. Most researchers predicted giving wouldn’t return to pre-recession levels until 2018.

The Positive Present and Surprising Comeback

Fortunately, present numbers paint a more positive picture for nonprofits. In 2012, giving took a jump upward—and that trend continued in 2013. Economic growth and consumer confidence are increasing, and nonprofits are seeing more donor dollars.

Six significant stats for nonprofits from the Giving USA 2014 report:

$335.17 billion total contributions to nonprofits in 2013

4.4% increase in U.S. charitable giving over 2012

72% of contributions came from individual donors in 2013

4.2% increase in individual giving in 2013 (a $9.69 billion increase over 2012)

$1,016 average per capita giving by U.S. adults in 2013

$2,974 average giving per U.S. household in 2013

According to the new Giving USA report, overall charitable giving has increased 12.3% since the end of the recession in 2009. While this is a slower recovery than nonprofits experienced following past recessions, it is still better than what many industry experts expected.

The Giving USA report notes: “If total giving continues to grow at current, inflation-adjusted rates, it could be just one or two more years for total giving to return to the peak level realized in 2007 ($349.50 billion).” The report also notes that five subsectors (education, foundations, human services, health, and environment/animals) have already reached or surpassed giving levels prior to the recession (when adjusted for inflation).

As long as the economy continues to improve, individual giving should continue to increase—particularly among wealthy individuals, whose major contributions dropped significantly during the recession (to the tune of $30 billion in contributions according to this article from Forbes). This is undoubtedly good news for nonprofits.

The Fundraising Future and Path to Success

While these trends point to improved overall giving health in the industry, it’s up to individual nonprofits to use this opportunity to build stronger donor relationships by taking actions like:

  • Making a greater effort to engage donors across channels
  • Sharing more information about how donations are making a difference
  • Using modeling and analytics to better target donor populations
  • Compelling existing donors to continue giving or move to monthly giving

Remember, just because people are giving more to nonprofits doesn’t mean they will give to your nonprofit. There may be more donations dollars to go around, but it’s up to you to display the need for those donations, show people the great work you’re doing, and create personal connections to your cause and organization.

About the 2014 Giving USA Report: ‘Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy’ is the seminal publication reporting on the sources and uses of charitable giving in the United States. Get your copy of the 2014 Giving USA report here.