2018’s Top Trends in Philanthropy | npENGAGE

2018’s Top Trends in Philanthropy

By on Dec 27, 2018


nonprofit donation trends

From another record-breaking #GivingTuesday to the power of women’s philanthropy, 2018 has been a year replete with new movements and all-time highs. Take a look below to discover the Blackbaud Institute’s top trends that reverberated across the social good sector this year.


  1. Reaching new heights:

This year kicked off after the close of a record-breaking 2017, when over $410 billion was donated to charities across the U.S as reported in Giving USA. This total was underpinned by a significant increase in individual giving, which accounted for over $286 billion of that total.

  • These figures revealed an interesting trend if we take a deeper dive into the data. Our Vital Signs research series found that fewer households are donating to charities, but the average gift amounts of those who gave increased. We might suspect that this parallels a rise in income inequality throughout the U.S.. Nevertheless, it may point to a decline in the number of donors giving small and medium sized gifts and hint at an elevated role for major donors.


  1. Retention is here to stay:

As noted in our Charitable Giving Report,  the retention rate for first-year, offline donors sat around 31%. However, retention nearly doubled among multi-year donors and reached 61%. Clearly, there’s a significant return on investment to be made by taking the steps to turn first-time givers into lasting supporters.


  1. Mobile has definitively arrived:

21% of online giving now happens on a mobile device. With an increasing percentage of donors giving through mobile, organizations must continue to optimize this experience by integrating mobile-friendly websites, emails, and donation forms. These practices are now table stakes for successful fundraising.


  1. Keeping it online:

Our Charitable Giving Report also highlights that the percentage of total fundraising from online giving reached a record high  and sat at nearly 8%. This closely mirrors data released by the Commerce Department regarding the percentage of online sales compared to overall retail and indicates that online giving is keeping pace with consumer behavior.


  1. Generation X is on deck:

Though Baby Boomers remain the most generous donors in the U.S., their giving may be approaching the top of the parabola. In 2018, Gen Xers gave more overall than Matures for the first time and 20% of Gen X-ers said that they expect to increase their giving in the coming years, suggesting their upcoming ascendancy over Boomers. Fundraisers should ensure that their marketing and engagement strategies include the preferences of Gen X-ers to meet their growing potential.


  1. Year(s) of the Woman:

2018 certainly showed us that women are a philanthropic force to be reckoned with. Research from the Women’s Philanthropy Institute (WPI) confirmed that when people believe that others are interested in giving to women’s and girl’s causes, both women and men are more likely to donate to those causes themselves. Read more on that here.

  • In another study from the WPI, researchers showed that not only do households tend to maintain their giving levels throughout retirement, but also that married couples and single women are more likely to donate (and to make larger donations) than single, male retirees. These findings show that women have often been powerful drivers of giving, and that the philanthropic sector has just begun to realize their impact.


  1. Crowdfunding is up:

Among Millennials alone, the percentage of donors saying they have given via a crowdfunding campaign has risen from 17% to 48% in the last five years. This trend is increasingly reinforced by large scale giving days like #GivingTuesday where users are motivated to create fundraising pages for their favorite cause. The continued success of crowdfunding shows the powerful roles that individuals can play in widening the social good economy.


  1. A connected office tops the priority list:

Trends across the sector continually show misunderstood data, organizational silos, poor work culture, and other factors are inhibiting fundraising success. As we accumulate more and more data each day, it’s become crucial that organizations understand their constituents at a demographic level. From fundraisers, to executives and program directors, staff must work in lockstep to ensure that they are basing decisions off reliable, shared information. By taking the time to assess data hygiene, or dive into analytics, organizations can glean actionable insights, and in turn, create a more holistic constituent experience that rings true to their mission and evolves alongside new trends for years to come.


Gabrielle Torres is an Editorial Production Coordinator at the Blackbaud Institute for Philanthropic Impact. She came to Blackbaud after serving as an AmeriCorps member at a community farm and youth development nonprofit in Austin, Texas. With experience in research, data collaboration, and writing, Gabrielle is passionate about using technology and innovation as tools for social good. When she’s not plugged into her Spotify, you can catch her jogging Austin’s trails and admiring fresh produce at her neighborhood farmers market.

Comments (3)

  • Karen says:

    Bullet point under item 1 appears to have an incomplete sentence.

  • KaLeigh says:

    This data will be very helpful in our efforts to begin certain types of solicitation!

  • Carrie says:

    It is interesting that most of the seminars and workshops that I have recently attended seem to focus on Boomers and Millenials. It is very rare to see anything presented about Gen X and how they prefer to give. I recently attended a workshop that had speakers from the Boomer generation and the Millenial generation but never addressed Gen X.

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