Report: Fundraising back to pre-Recession levels, online giving to arts is up 8.4%

Blackbaud Nonprofit Trends blog, 1/19/12

The Blackbaud Index of Charitable Giving reports that 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. Most economists agree that is when the recession began. "Total U.S. charitable giving appears to finally be back to its pre-recession levels. Fundraising remains challenging but hopefully the worst is behind us, and nonprofits will continue to see positive growth in 2012," according to Chuck Longfield, Blackbaud's chief scientist. He also noted that while giving is up, the increase is not uniform across all sub-sectors. However, most nonprofits saw greater stability and predictability in their 2011 fundraising than in the past few years. There are two important caveats to the trends. First, the demand for services from nonprofit organizations remains high and in some sectors continues to grow. Second, when adjusting for inflation, fundraising dollars are not yet back to where they were before the recession began. The other good news is that the Blackbaud Index of Online Giving continues to show double-digit growth in November. This marks seven consecutive months with growth over 10% on a year-over-year basis. Online giving growth remains very positive across small, medium, and large sized nonprofit organizations. These trends are important to see in the last quarter when a very significant amount of online giving happens.


> Arts, culture, and humanities organizations had an overall charitable revenue increase of 7.7% for the three months ending November 2011, as compared to the same period in 2010. This trend is based on $315 million in 12 month revenue from 146 organizations.

> Arts, culture, and humanities organizations had an online revenue increase of 8.4% for the three months ending November 2011, as compared to the same period in 2010. This trend is based on $21 million in 12 month revenue from 158 organizations.


Commentary: Digital media will be more than just a 'virtual charity bucket'

"We're All Philanthropists Now" report, 11/11, website of Panlogic [UK]

Panlogic undertook some research into new approaches to giving and philanthropy in the 21st Century. We wanted to see how Arts organisations might make best use of the new technologies and approaches.

It is commonly quoted that 80% of donations come from 20% of donors, and many fundraisers consider relationship-building with high net worth donors to be an effective way of raising funds. However, a new survey into the charitable habits of ultra high net worth individuals shows only 7% are happy with their giving habits. Digital philanthropy expert Lucy Bernholz thinks that digital media will be more than just a 'virtual charity bucket'. Her theory of 'the long tail of giving' holds that:

"potentially millions of small donors...are seeking to connect with thousands of recipients and who, cumulatively, account for more dollars than do the relatively few big organized philanthropies that make up the left-hand side of the curve."

As technology enables organisations and supporters to interact and disseminate information at unprecedented pace and scale, can crowd-funding generate enough donations to change the established fund-raising mix for the Arts? Fund-raising platforms are everywhere.Since the emergence of Just Giving in the late '90s, a number of other online fund-raising platforms have followed. Recent UK examples include, which allows charities to upload videos about their work along with a means for donors to give; The Big Give which provides sponsor match-funding to charities, and the creative-specific market-place We Fund which allows organisations and artists to provide incentives to their donors in return for supporting a specific project. Most recently, Vodafone's JustTextGiving allows charities of every size to collect donations by text. These platforms allow organisations without the capacity to fundraise online, to have a presence alongside the bigger players. As well as offering more effective payment mechanisms, they also provide a highly creative and cost-effective means for organisations to tell their story and show the impact a donation makes.


Commentary: How the tech-enabled 'long tail of giving' might change fundraising

Lucy Bernholz, Stanford Social Innovation Review, 1/13/12

Donors who use cell phones to make donations do more than give, they talk about it. They actively encourage others to give. They may not do much due diligence themselves, but they sure do spread the word.  Those insights come from a new report looking at text donations made to Haiti after the devastating earthquake of January 12, 2010. More than $43 million was raised through mobile giving for that disaster. Given how many of us carry our phones everywhere, it seems likely that we'll do more of this. The research also found that more than half of the mobile donors to Haiti relief went on to make additional disaster related mobile gifts over time. This makes me wonder if the behaviors of these donors in a disaster will become a new norm - call them "roaming reflexive donors." This kind of giving isn't committed to a place, a cause or an organization - it's immediate,"do-something and talk about it." While the ability to give small amounts of money quickly might seem like a fragmenting force for donations, the energy with which these donors tell others about their donations might serve as some form of "glue" and "direction" - sending donations to a few organizations with the most vocal early givers, for example. Every click we make on the web or on our phones leaves a "data shadow." The collection of these shadows add up into patterns that we are getting much better at "seeing" through data analytics, visualizations, and surveys. There has been a great deal of speculation in the last decade about how the tech-enabled long tail of giving might change the way all of philanthropy works. One line of questioning asks if the wisdom of the giving crowd, now made visible, will inform nonprofits or big foundations? Online giving platforms have multiplied in recent years, each trying to get the right info to the small donors to motivate them to give. The question this research raises for me is "what information matters to whom, when?" The best research on this question as it pertains to the "head of the tail" (wealthier donors) is in the form of the Money For Good reports (I and II). There have always been (at least) two sources of information for donors - their peers and the organizations themselves. The explosion of third party information sources (separate from foundations) that rate, review and opine on different organizations mostly provide information on the front end to inform a gift. But if [this new] research is right, and the order of action on mobile giving is "give, tell, move on" where does information fit in? And should the goal be to inform the key people in any given network, as it's their opinion, recommendations and tweets that will influence others?

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