Overall charitable giving to nonprofits in the U.S. declined 0.7 percent for the three months ending March 2014, according to the latest update to the Blackbaud Index.
While overall charitable giving had increased in every month starting in December 2013, the rate of that increase decreased each month leading up to March 2014. The rate was at a high of 4.9 percent in December but in February 2014 it was just 1.8 percent.
“This doesn’t mean that the sky is falling,” said Steve McLaughlin, director of the Idea Lab at Blackbaud in Charleston, S.C. “If you look at the data of March of last year, overall giving was up roughly 6 percent. It’s true that the number is down but it’s down off a high number.” According to McLaughlin, the overall giving includes all types of fundraising methods.
The only type of organization with an increase in overall charitable giving in March was small nonprofits (annual revenue of less than $1 million), at 3.5 percent. Medium-sized nonprofits (between $1 million and $10 million in annual revenue) saw the biggest decrease at 2.8 percent.
Nonprofits that focused on K-12 education, meanwhile, had the biggest decrease at 15.5 percent. That sector has had declines of 2.6 and 1.8 percent the past two months.
The U.S was not the only one with bad news on the charitable giving front. The Blackbaud Index Canada, which tracks giving to the Canadian nonprofit sector, reported overall charitable giving decreased 5.5 percent. This constituted a drastic drop from the previous report, when overall giving increased by 1.5 percent. The Canada Index draws its data from 276 organizations that raise nearly $700 million annually, accounting for approximately 7 percent of the Canadian market.
Despite the decline in overall charitable giving there was some good news from the index. Online giving increased by 12.8 percent in March, though that was slightly down from February (13.6 percent). The Blackbaud Index Canada, meanwhile, reported that online giving increased by 12 percent.
The Blackbaud Index, updated every month, tracks more than $12 billion in U.S.-based charitable giving, and is calculated on a three-month moving average of year-over-year percent change. The data is developed on information from 3,200 organizations in the U.S.