Charitable giving in the United States continues to lag behind the pace of 2017, raising critical questions about how charities will fare in their fundraising by the end of the year.
The information, from the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, is based on the Growth in Giving Database, which includes more than 18,000 organizations and $72 billion in donations since 2005. For the second consecutive quarter, nearly every metric the report analyzes is underperforming compared to 2017 data and several metrics have regressed even further since the first quarter.
For example, the overall number of donors giving in 2018 was down 6.3 percent in the first quarter compared to 2017 and declined to 6.6 percent in the second quarter. Similarly, the overall donor retention rate (the percentage of donors who continue to give to the same organization from one year to the next) was behind 4.6 percent for the first quarter, but 6.4 percent behind after the second quarter.
Overall revenue has gained a little ground on 2017 performance – from -2.4 percent in the first quarter to -2.1 percent in the second quarter – as have $1,000-plus gifts from -5.2 percent in the first quarter to -2 percent in the second quarter. However, gifts of less than $250 have fallen significantly, from being the only metric in the first quarter that was positive, 3.7 percent ahead of 2017 data, to lagging behind in the second quarter by 0.9 percent.
“What makes all this data so concerning is that in addition to 2018 performance lagging behind last year’s figures, the third quarter is typically the lowest-performing quarter of the year, according to our past research,” said Elizabeth Boris, chair, Growth in Giving Initiative. “We were worried after the first quarter, but I’d say after the second quarter data, alarm bells should be ringing for most charities. Our organizations really need to be focused on cultivating and securing their current donors and ensuring they’ll receive the gifts they need.”
For more information on the 2018 Second Quarter Report, and to download the report and learn about other free FEP tools to help measure fundraising effectiveness, visit www.afpfep.org