Mixed Results for Giving in 2019 | Sharpe Group blog
Posted June 22nd, 2020

Mixed Results for Giving in 2019

The first quarter of 2019 began with the DOW and other stock market indexes seeing a significant decline. There were growing concerns over the economy, which created a challenging environment for charitable giving. By mid-year, half of the charitable organizations indicated their fundraising results were flat or down compared to the previous year. The economy and stock markets both improved in the second half of 2019, and income, net worth and GDP increased accordingly.

Though charitable giving appeared to enjoy a rebound, would it be enough to make up for the slow start during the first half of the year?

Three recently released reports show mixed results for charitable giving in 2019. They include: The Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP), research established by the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the URBAN Institute; The Charitable Giving Report, conducted by the Blackbaud Institute; and Giving USA 2020: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the year 2019, published by the Giving USA Foundation and researched by the Indiana University Lilly School of Philanthropy at IUPUI. Together, the three reports provide an intriguing look at charitable giving for 2019, particularly gifts from individuals. Based on each report, giving from individuals either fell 1.4%, grew 1% or grew 4.7%. A few of the highlights of each report are included below:

The Fundraising Effectiveness Project Report (AFP & the URBAN Institute):

  • 2019 donor revenue was 98.64% of 2018.
  • Small, medium and large contributions fell, 1.1%, 1% and 1.4% respectively.
  • Most of the gift revenue came from donors of $1,000, totaling 84.47%.
  • Total number of donors fell 3%.

The Charitable Giving Report (Blackbaud Institute):

  • Charitable giving grew 1% in 2019.
  • Online giving was 8.7% of total fundraising.
  • Gifts to large organizations fell 0.7%. Giving increased 3.2% for medium and 2.2% for small organizations.
  • The average age of U.S. donors was 63.
  • December was the most generous month, and about one-third of giving occurred in the final three months of the year.

Giving USA 2020: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the year 2019 (Giving USA Foundation):

  • Total charitable giving from individuals, bequests, foundations and corporations was an estimated $450 billion, an increase of 4.2% (2.4% adjusted for inflation) over the prior year.
  • Giving by individuals totaled an estimated $310 billion, rising 4.7% (2.8% adjusted for inflation) in 2019.
  • Giving by foundations rose slightly to $76 billion, an increase of 2.5% (0.7% adjusted for inflation).
  • Giving by charitable bequests was estimated at $43 billion and was basically flat for the year, HOWEVER BEQUEST REVENUE WAS THE FASTEST GROWING SOURCE OF GIFT REVENUE BETWEEN 2017 AND 2019, RISING 9.5% AND OVERALL TOTALING MORE THAN $120 BILLION IN CURRENT DOLLARS.
  • Giving by corporations saw the largest increase of just over 13% totaling $21 billion (an increase of 11.4% when adjusted for inflation).
  • All in all, 2019 turned out to be a pretty good year for giving after a relatively bad start.
    Additional information may be located at:

    By Barlow Mann, General Counsel

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