Don’t misuse Giving USA figures


  • Giving is up! The recession over! Party like it’s 2006!
  • Giving is still in the doldrums. There’s no light at the end of tunnel.

That sums up the reactions to the new Giving USA 2011 report (download the executive summary or buy the full report).

You can take this data either way — or better yet, you could have a more reasonable interpretation that’s somewhere between those two.

What you can’t do is use the data to chart your own course.

Total estimated giving in 2010 was up 3.8%, or 2.1% adjusted for inflation. Actually, that was partly driven by big jumps in charitable bequests (up 18.8%) and corporate giving (up 10.6%). So individual giving was only up 2.7% (1.1% adjusted for inflation).

But that doesn’t mean your individual giving was up 1.1%.

Whatever happened to you in 2010 was influenced by the economic climate, but was a lot more the result of decisions you made.

If you slashed new donor acquisition during the recession and have not yet started it back up, you likely did worse than grow by one percent. And you have a few more tough years ahead of you.

If you kept the acquisition machine going, if you used smart, relevant fundraising offers — you probably did meaningfully better than one percent.

The differences among the sectors, which ranged from small declines to a strong increase in international affairs, capture some of that variation.

One good use I can think of for these nationwide top line numbers: Talking to your board. You might say, Our fundraising revenue was up only 3% last year, but that’s considerably better than the 1.1% nationwide average!

People appreciate context. Even when it’s not terribly relevant.

Whatever you do, don’t assume last year’s 3.8% increase is something you can bank on for your organization.


Comments

2 responses to “Don’t misuse Giving USA figures”

  1. An important data point in the 2010 Giving USA report is that giving by individuals to commercial donor advised funds (DAF) went up, but giving to public charities actually went down. To me it means that public charities don’t manage/build their relationship with their donors well. If donors prefer “transactional philanthropy” it means that charities don’t do “engaging philanthropy”.
    Something to take a note of if you are a leader of a public charity, you are currently losing this battle!

  2. An important data point in the 2010 Giving USA report is that giving by individuals to commercial donor advised funds (DAF) went up, but giving to public charities actually went down. To me it means that public charities don’t manage/build their relationship with their donors well. If donors prefer “transactional philanthropy” it means that charities don’t do “engaging philanthropy”.
    Something to take a note of if you are a leader of a public charity, you are currently losing this battle!

Leave a Reply

What this blog is about

The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

Blog policies

Subscribe

Get new posts by email:

About the blogger

Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


Archives

Blogroll

Categories


Search the blog

The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

Recent Comments

About the blogger

Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

Blog Roll

someone’s blog