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Nearly half of nonprofits saw an increase in donors since March 2020

November 5, 2021 – Candid

While nearly half of surveyed nonprofits saw an increase in the number of donors since March 2020, many were unprepared to leverage the surge in generosity, a report from the Blackbaud Institute finds.

Based on a survey of nearly twelve hundred nonprofit professionals and more than a thousand donors between June 28 and July 23, the report, Tipping Point: Aligning with Supporters in a Changing World, found that 45 percent of organizations reported an increase in the number of donors since March 2020, while only a fifth saw their donor files shrink. More than a third (34 percent) of donors reported giving more than in a typical year, 51 percent gave about the same, and just 12 percent gave less.

According to the report, among new donors and those who gave more, young donors and people of color showed up more prominently than older and white donors, with 53 percent of Gen Z and 45 percent of millennial respondents reporting giving more, compared with 27 percent of Gen X and 25 percent of boomer respondents. And 46 percent of Black and 44 percent of Latinx/Hispanic respondents reported increasing their giving, compared with 38 percent of Asian-American/Pacific Islander and 33 percent of white respondents. Latinx/Hispanic donors were most likely to say they supported a new organization in 2020 (54 percent), followed by Black (49 percent), AAPI (48 percent), and white donors (41 percent). Latinx/Hispanic and Black donors also were more likely to give in response to the COVID-19 pandemic (50 percent and 44 percent) and social and racial injustice (48 percent and 48 percent) than AAPI or white donors.

The report also found that organizations that had failed to invest in technology and the know-how to leverage it for donor engagement were at a significant disadvantage as in-person gatherings became impossible. The survey revealed a disconnect between many organizations and their supporters: While 72 percent of nonprofit professionals said they expanded their offerings of virtual events, only 16 percent of donors were aware of them, and while 59 percent of professionals said their organizations encouraged donors to share content on social media, only 18 percent of donors recalled seeing any such requests from the causes they support. Similarly, 60 percent of organizations rated themselves as “excellent” at meeting donor expectations for staying true to their mission, values, and goals, yet only 44 percent of donors said the same, while donors tended to give organizations higher marks than the organizations give themselves on measures such as using money wisely, reporting on how donations make a difference, and making donors feel appreciated.

The report’s takeaways include the need to pay much closer attention to donors’ expectations, pursue “philanthropy for all” with deliberate speed to reflect the true diversity and breadth of the country, ensure donor retention and don’t squander the moment, invest in technology with the long term in mind, develop leaders with new capacities, and foster a future proof culture that rewards risk, encourages innovation, and manages change well.

“In a time where complexity demands new thinking, this new research can help decision-makers in the social good sector understand what supporters value most,” said Blackbaud Institute managing director Ashley Thompson. “Our hope is that this report will help leaders identify performance gaps and shift their focus to high-return areas so they can adapt to today’s changing landscape more effectively.”