Philanthropy Blog: Update on Giving Tuesday

June 30, 2015

Back in December I wrote about #GivingTuesday and how donors and nonprofits make use of a global one-day event to jump start giving all year round. Now that we are at the half-way point of the giving year and nearing the end of many organizations’ fiscal years, I thought I’d revisit some of the themes from that post, in light of a new study of the three year giving trends from #GivingTuesday that has just been released by Blackbaud.

The report analyzes data from more than 4,300 organizations representing over $55 million in online giving that took place during the 24 hours of #GivingTuesday since 2012. Some of the key findings were consistent with data that had been released prior to this report, but I found some of the trends worth noting and interesting for the future.

For instance, 2013 seems to have been a banner year for #GivingTuesday, with a 90% increase in dollars raised and a 36% increase in transaction volume over the prior year. While total dollars raised in 2014 grew on a less steep trajectory (36%) the transaction volume grew at a faster pace (50%). In addition, in 2014 there was a significant shift in the amount of online funds raised by “medium-sized” (budget size of $1-$10 million) organizations, growing from 13% to 21%. The average gift size was at or above $100 for all but those donations to organizations supporting the environment and animals, whose average gift fell well below $100. Finally, the report showed that religious organizations raised 40% of all online donations on Giving Tuesday 2013 and 21% in 2014. This is consistent with data from Giving USA showing that in 2014 giving to religion reached its highest value ever, at 32% of total giving in 2014.

The report acknowledges that #GivingTuesday is still at the beginning of a “movement,” and that there will be more twists and turns in the data before you can draw definitive conclusions on any of these statistics. So what does all this data mean for nonprofits in an ever-competitive donor landscape? How do donors make sense of it and apply it to their giving? We know that data abounds in the field of philanthropy and can be accessed at the tip of your fingers on any topic a donor wishes. From literacy rates by zip code to average budget size of nonprofits in any state, you can find data on nearly any issue or field with a few mouse clicks. It’s what you do with that data and how you incorporate it into your giving that matters. Studies like this and others can help you put your giving into a national and regional context and measure it against what others in the field are doing.

For some donors, participating in a national movement on #GivingTuesday makes them feel part of something bigger, and they might choose that day on which to make their gift. Others may see a specific day, whether #GivingTuesday or their birthday or a holiday as a time when they want to tie their gift to a broader theme. Others may take the data and determine that they want to give to a cause that is under-represented nationally. Even other donors will give with their passion regardless of the national trends and data.

For nonprofits, it looks like #GivingTuesday is a growing movement and one in which nonprofits of any size or issue area can participate and use to amplify their message. Now, in summer, may be an opportune time for nonprofits to consider how to participate on December 1, 2015. Will you ensure that donors can give on a mobile device, or tie your outreach strategy to your social media plans? Is there a matching gift campaign that can run simultaneously?

My recommendations on giving with passion that I posted back in December still stand. In our philanthropic advisory practice, we use data to inform giving research, help fine tune a giving strategy and ensure that any gift a donor makes has personal relevance, leverage and as great an impact as possible.

About the Author

Gioia Perugini is Associate Director, Family Office and Philanthropy Services at Hemenway & Barnes. She works with individuals, families, advisors, charitable trusts and foundations to provide a range of philanthropic and client services.

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