Generous Donors Continue to Grow Philanthropy | npENGAGE

Generous Donors Continue to Grow Philanthropy

By on Mar 20, 2019


In our last Charitable Giving Report, we entered 2018 with a first look at answers to heady questions swirling around the sector. How was philanthropy affected by the tumult surrounding us? We knew then that the many shakeups of widening political rifts, natural disasters, and increased civic engagement would have long-lasting effects that would be seen throughout 2018.

Now, as we enter a new year, the 2018 Charitable Giving Report provides us with our first data-backed view of the trends. And the picture looks bright.

Overall giving is up once again, continuing a consistent trend we have seen for many years now. As we found in our Vital Signs research series, while fewer households are giving, those that give are donating at higher levels than ever before. Buoyed by these generous donors, organizations that prioritize stewardship and retention of their donors continue to find the greatest success.

Here are some more key findings in the report:

  • Since 2016, overall giving has grown 9%
  • Online giving grew 1.2% in 2018. Since 2016, online giving has grown 17% and average online gift amounts have continued to increase. The average online donation in 2018 was $147.
  • Approximately 8.5% of overall fundraising revenue, excluding grants, was raised online in 2018—another record high.
  • In 2018, 24% of online transactions were made using a mobile device.
  • December remains the largest giving month of the year with 17% of overall giving and 17.3% of online giving for the year.

As always, a focus on the fundamentals of relationship building continues to be key to fundraising success. The networked world around us has placed donors squarely in the role of key navigators of their own philanthropic course. With this year’s findings that donors continue to be generous in the face of uncertainty around them, we must continue to celebrate their generosity. By taking the time to learn about their motivations for giving and their unique charitable perspectives, we can steward long-term relationships to inspire them to maintain their valuable support for years to come.

This 2018 Charitable Giving Report illuminates a positive truth of the social good sector: The generosity of donors is not shaped solely by incentives. Even amid changing times, people prioritize giving and philanthropy continues to grow.


Steve MacLaughlin is the Vice President of Data & Analytics at Blackbaud and bestselling author of Data Driven Nonprofits.

MacLaughlin has been featured as a fundraising and nonprofit expert in many mainstream publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, USA Today, The NonProfit Times, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Bloomberg, and has appeared on NPR.

He is a frequent speaker at events including the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP), American Marketing Association (AMA), Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), Direct Marketing Fundraisers Association (DMFA), Giving Institute Summer Symposium, National Association of Independent School (NAIS), Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC), Institute of Fundraising National Convention (United Kingdom), Civil Society Conference (Netherlands), International Fundraising Congress (Netherlands), Ask Direct Fundraising Summer School (Ireland), and a keynote speaker at several conferences across the social good sector.

Steve previously served on the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) Board of Directors and is currently an adjunct faculty member at Columbia University.

He is a frequent blogger, published author of a chapter in the book People to People Fundraising: Social Networking and Web 2.0 for Charities, and is a co-editor of the book Internet Management for Nonprofits: Strategies, Tools & Trade Secrets. His latest book, Data Driven Nonprofits, became a bestseller in 2016.

Steve earned both his undergraduate degree and a Master of Science degree in Interactive Media from Indiana University.

Comments (4)

  • Shelly Gammieri says:

    Thank you for sharing these findings. This outlook seems so positive. The message seems to be: keep doing what you’re doing. Does the data tell us anything about trends that are not keeping pace?

  • Mary Sommer says:

    It is nice to see progress.

  • Claudia says:

    I believe people give because they want to, that being said it’s good to see things trending up.

  • Cammi Derr says:

    Organizations must continue to keep up with technology to match their donor strategies. The days of mail and phone donor strategies are becoming obsolete.

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