Giving Growth At Over 5-Year Low

Year-over-year growth in giving is slow out of the gate in 2018. The three months ending in February 2018 have shown just a 1.7-percent increase in giving as compared with the same three-month span ending in February 2017. The figure represents a 0.1-point increase compared to the 1.6-percent growth recorded in the three months leading up through January 2018, according to the Blackbaud Index, which tracks year-to-year fluctuations in overall and online giving.

The first two recordings of 2018 show the mildest year-over-year growth that the index has reported since August 2012, when giving increased by just 0.2 percent. The smallest year-over-year increase in giving recorded in 2017 was the three months ending in September 2017, with a total bump of 2.5 percent.

Steve MacLaughlin, vice president of data & analytics for Blackbaud, explained in an email that the index uses three-month rolling figures to account for episodic spikes. On a pure year-over-year basis, overall giving is up a more palatable 3.4 percent through February 2018, he said.

“This is still very early in the year to draw any conclusions about overall giving trends in 2018,” said MacLaughlin.

Medium-sized organizations, those with between $1 million and $10 million in revenue, have navigated through 2018 the best thus far, displaying a 3.2-percent gain in overall giving, including a 12.5-percent boost online. The average overall online giving increase across all organizations is 8.3 percent, according to the index. Organizations with more than $10 million in revenue have seen giving increase by just 0.9 percent overall and 7.3 percent online while organizations with less than $1 million in revenue have experienced a 1.4-percent increase overall and 5.5 percent online.

Arts and Culture organizations have found a way to thrive during a slow start to 2018, with a 6.4-percent surge, the subsector’s largest gain since September 2016. Arts and Culture organizations also enjoy the biggest boost among subsectors online, with an 18.3-percent year-over-year increase. MacLaughlin attributes Arts organization’s early success to a strong closeout to 2017.

Higher education (up 5 percent overall, 15 percent online) and human services (increases of 4.1 percent overall and 11.1 percent online) are other subsectors that have started 2018 off on a high note.

Public-society benefit organizations are the only subsector to experience an overall loss in giving, down 2.3 percent following a 0.3-percent drop during the three months leading up through January 2018. It is the first giving loss the subsector has experienced since September 2016, a trend MacLaughlin said is not immediately explainable. The most modest overall giving gains among sectors include environmental and animal welfare nonprofits (0.5 percent), international affairs organizations (1.1 percent), and healthcare groups (1.5 percent).

An overall decline in online giving among subsectors has been experienced only by medical-research organizations, a fall of 1.4 percent. Medical research organizations have seen year-over-year losses in online fundraising in two of the past four months and overall losses in four of the past six months, according to past index data. The smallest gains in online giving have been seen by international affairs (1.9 percent), faith (6.3 percent), environmental and animal welfare (9.5 percent), and healthcare (9.7 percent) organizations.

The Blackbaud Index tracks approximately $23 billion in U.S. giving each month. Updated data is made available on the first business day of each month.