2018 Charitable Giving Report: Spotlight on Higher Ed with CASE CEO Sue Cunningham | npENGAGE

2018 Charitable Giving Report: Spotlight on Higher Ed with CASE CEO Sue Cunningham

By on Jun 5, 2019


Our research is in! The latest 2018 Charitable Giving Report with a spotlight on higher education can help institutions get a handle on the trends. I recently spoke with Sue Cunningham, president and CEO of CASE, to get her take on trends in higher education advancement. Our aim is to help you narrow in on important strategies for your institution in 2020. We went into more detail during our recent webinar, but here are the most important takeaways Sue and I had from the report:

Higher education institutions received 5.4% of their total fundraising from online giving in 2018.

Digital communication has opened up a huge range of opportunities for institutions to communicate with their constituencies and we’re seeing this play out with more online engagement than ever before. Even so, there’s a lot that can be done to make the online experience even more satisfying. Higher education institutions are competing with organizations that make it easy to give online. Additionally, constituents are used to pulling up Amazon and making a one-click order and they expect a similar online experience wherever they go. We have work to do when it comes to translating the nimble, accessible online experience to higher education fundraising.

Watch the 2018 Charitable Giving Report: Higher Education Spotlight webinar featuring Sue Cunningham and Tim Hill as they discuss 2018 fundraising trends and how advancement leaders can use this insight in 2019.  

The higher education sector brought in 32% of Giving Tuesday revenue. 

The numbers show that higher education institutions are leveraging Giving Tuesday to their advantage, more so than any other nonprofit sector. Our best advice is to clarify your institution’s goals and ensure that you have the capacity to deliver on your campaign. Since giving days have a strong online component, technical challenges around marketing and social media can slow you down. When you’re trying to successfully engage new and returning supporters, there must be novelty, but also a clear way of conveying donor impact.

Changes in the tax landscape are starting to impact fundraising, but it’s too early to tell how.  

The immediate effect of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act legislation resulted in an expected short-term boost to giving in December 2018. However, the law’s full impact on donors and fundraising will only be fully known after we’ve had a few years of data to analyze. It remains to be seen if reducing the number of taxpayers who are able to itemize, and therefore deduct charitable gifts, impacts total giving. Despite uncertainties, donors continue to give. We hypothesize that donations are an intensely personal act that transcends the prevailing economic and political winds. Donors give to education institutions because they believe in the mission of teaching, research, and service, and want to ensure that future generations have access to the kinds of experiences that colleges and universities provide.

Will more donors be bundling donations to get the tax deduction? Read about how to consider this possibility in The New Era of Year-End Giving Campaigns.

What we’re seeing on the horizon for advancement and technology in higher education. 

As higher education advancement teams meet the challenges of larger goals and more discerning constituents, they need the help of technology to help spread the word about the remarkable opportunities that philanthropic investment creates for students. To help meet constituents where they are, institutions are turning to multichannel approaches. Appealing to donors over text, email, phone, web, and social media requires a strong grasp of how to use these platforms and good data to back up their strategies. Institutions need all the expertise and information they can get about current trends in this ever-changing landscape. We’re hoping you’ll listen in as we discuss our Charitable Giving Report with a spotlight on higher education.

Download the full report at https://institute.blackbaud.com/2018-charitable-giving-report-higher-education-spotlight/. For more resources to help your institution, visit www.blackbaud.com/highered.


Tim joined Blackbaud in October 2016 as President & GM of Higher Education Solutions. He is a visionary, award winning global marketing, sales and operations executive with over 25 years of experience at high growth technology companies. He has led worldwide sales, marketing and operations teams at leading corporations like Blackboard, SAGA Software (Software AG) and Iomega Corporation. With more than two decades of success in technology sales/marketing strategy and brand development, Tim has been named one of the “Top 10 U.S. Marketers” by Crain’s Business Marketing; “Top 100 Executives” by Advertising Age and won “Product Launch of the Year” from Marketing Computers (for the Iomega zip drive). 

Before joining Blackbaud, Tim served as a senior executive at Blackboard for over eight years, most recently as President, Global Marketing. Prior to this, Tim was President of the Professional Education business unit (ProEd) focused on non-profit, government, corporate and for-profit education market verticals. He also held senior posts as Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing and International Sales at Software AG Americas and served as Chief Marketing & Sales Officer at Iomega Corporation. 

Comments (7)

  • Claudia says:

    It’s nice to see that higher ed is getting more engagement from their donors, especially in cost effective ways, i.e online giving.

  • Courtney says:

    Thanks for sharing this!

  • Jennifer Vincent says:

    Anecdotally, we have seen an increase in Donor Advised Fund giving and gift bundling since the tax laws changed. We are now beginning to structure our solicitations with that in mind.

  • Melissa Gard says:

    It will be interesting to see how other NP Giving parallels these trends in higher education. (Or IF they parallel, or run a different path!)

  • Becca says:

    “We have work to do when it comes to translating the nimble, accessible online experience to higher education fundraising”– Yes! With only 5.4% fundraising coming from online giving this is a huge area of growth (or area to catch up) to giving trends of younger donors.

  • Sarah says:

    Really interesting, thanks for sharing!

  • Rachel Lamb says:

    Love all the insights from the 2018 Charitable Giving Report

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