Associate Vice President of Strategic Initiatives Jessica Miller provides an aggregate of the report insights through the lens of experiential engagement.
1. Giving crossed the half-trillion-dollar mark for the first time in 2021, but giving in 2022 ($499B) declined by 3.4%.
Giving is down in true dollars from 2021 but inflation, which reached it’s highest rate in 40 years, also had a dampening effect. Inflation-adjusted giving shows a 10.5% decline.
2. Individual donor counts decline.
Higher education donors are made of more “one percenters” than other sectors. This usually means that the recovery rate in Higher Education philanthropy after a recession is faster than in other sectors, because these donors experience faster economic recovery.
Although giving by individuals is the largest segment, it has not grown as fast as other segments, like giving by foundations, which grew by an annualized average of 9.2% (over the last 40 years) compared to 4.9% growth in individual giving.
Despite a larger percentage of dollars coming from a smaller number of donors, institutions will disadvantage future campaigns and fundraising efforts by completely neglecting the “base” (of the pyramid) in their fundraising efforts today.
3. Education dropped from #2 to #3 in gift designations in 2022, capturing 13% (down 3.6% from 2021). Institutions must continue to advocate for their value proposition.
Top donors are most interested in solving grand challenges. Institutions should continue to demonstrate why they are the best (or only) place positioned to solve a specific challenge and focus on demonstrating impact, which resonates most with those who make large gifts.
When engaging the donor pyramid’s base, messages of impact can be less resonate. Donors may ask, “will my $100 gift really make a difference?” Institutions could consider emphasizing the intrinsic value of giving with these donors.
Regardless of gift size, authentic storytelling continues to resonate with donors at all levels.
4. Sense of belonging and donor experience matter more than ever.
There is a renewed emphasis on the donor experience and donor journey. The roles of community, belonging, and shared experience (largely provided by events) are changing the bottom line in meaningful ways. A recent BWF study shows that when donors are connected with other donors, their lifetime giving is four to five times more, and they are more resilient in giving during economic uncertainty.
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