The reports are in for charitable giving in 2020, and the results are unanimous. Three widely followed reports on charitable giving indicated that overall giving increased between 2% and 10.6% in spite of the unprecedented events of 2020.
- The Blackbaud Institute’s Charitable Giving Report cited an increase of 2% in giving.
- Giving USA 2021: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2020 reported a 5.1% increase.
- The Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Fundraising Effectiveness Project found a 10.6% increase.
All three reports offer special insights that may assist fundraisers in their philanthropic development plans for the future. Despite a combination of challenges not seen since the Spanish flu early in the 20th century, charitable giving continued in the face of global health, economic, political and social changes. Some charities experienced increases in giving, while others were flat or down.
Published by the Giving USA Foundation in cooperation with the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at IUPUI, Giving USA is the oldest and most comprehensive report on charitable giving in America.
- Overall giving reached a record estimate of $471.44 billion for the year.
- Giving by individuals totaled $324.1 billion but was less than 70% of total giving.
- Foundation giving grew to $88.55 billion or 19% of total giving.
- Charitable bequests grew 10.3% to $41.9 billion or 9% of total giving.
- Corporate giving declined by 6.1% to $16.88 billion or 4% of total giving.
Past Giving USA reports and studies have indicated donors respond to economic recessions and natural, or unnatural, disasters by giving generously. That certainly seems to be the case for 2020, and as we consider fundraising in 2021, we may see many of the same health, economic, social and political concerns continue. However, the economy is growing, personal income and wealth are up and unemployment is falling. The combination of continuing challenges and crises and economic and philanthropy capacity bodes well for fundraisers who communicate their mission, message and needs in a compelling fashion to their constituents. ■
Barlow Mann has more than three decades of experience in charitable gift planning and serves as general counsel for Sharpe Group. He is a member of the American and Tennessee Bar Associations and has authored articles on gift planning for many publications.