Donor Giving Trends for Today and Tomorrow, Part 2
[Editor’s note: This is part 2 of a four-part series on the session “Trends for Tomorrow — Action Today” held at Fund Raising Day in New York. View part 1 here, and keep an eye out for parts 3 and 4 in the coming weeks.]
In the session "Trends for Tomorrow — Action Today," fundraising pros Margaret Holman, president of Holman Consulting; consultant Kathryn Slocum; Harry Lynch, CEO of Sanky Communications and SankyNet; and moderator Marilyn Hoyt, a nonprofit consultant, shared donor trends in individual giving, institutional giving and online giving, and what nonprofits can take away from those trends.
Giving by individual donors is still a major source of fundraising despite the economic woes of the past few years. Individual donors continue to be the lifeblood of nonprofits because there are far more individual donors out there than corporations. So it’s vital to understand how today’s individual donor differs from donors historically, and how they’ll evolve.
Donors continue to give but are narrowing their focus to fewer charities where they can make a bigger impact, Holman said. Further, people give most when they have a sense of security and optimism about the future. With the soft recovery of home values, volatility in the stock market and rising health care costs, few American have any sense of financial security, meaning they are even more discerning as to whom they’re giving donations.
“People are very careful now in how they give money and where,” Holman said. “Donors are doing a lot more homework than in the past, doing research on charities before they decide to give.”
According to Russ Reid’s Heart of the Donor report, people research charities in the following ways:
- talk to someone who supports the charity;
- 62 percent of respondents visit the organization’s website, and 56 percent search the Internet for news;
- check with watchdog organizations (i.e., Charity Navigator, GuideStar);
- visit the organization in person.
Despite more research and more demands for efficiency, Holman said, “the No. 1 reason people make gifts is belief in the mission of the organization.” Thus, some traditional trends are still true: