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6 Insights from the 2019 Blackbaud Charitable Giving Report

fundraising nonprofit Mar 01, 2020

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If you’re into nonprofit fundraising, especially on the digital side, then it’s that special time of year where industry benchmark reports begin rolling out. Most recently, Blackbaud kicked off the benchmark season with its 2019 Blackbaud Charitable Giving Report. This is one of the most significant reports for digital fundraisers for the sheer size of the data set. The report is based on data procured from 8,210 nonprofits and $36.3 billion in fundraising revenue. So yeah, it’s kind of a big deal, and why it’s one of my favorites.

As always with benchmark reports, I advise that you review it, take notes and examine how your organization stacks up to others in your nonprofit sector and size. However, I also always caution that you create benchmarks for your own nonprofit and don’t base your success or failure on industry bookmarks. With a sample size of 8,210 nonprofits, there is certainly enough data to cover an array of nonprofits that vary by donor demographics and quality of data, which is a good thing. Keep your eye on the industry, but keep your eyes closer on what you can do to set and improve upon your own benchmarks. That said, let’s get into some of the interesting finds in the 2019 Blackbaud Charitable Giving Report:

1. Digital is Making Strides

As a sector, charitable giving only grew by 1% from 2018–2019; however online giving increased by 6.8% year over year. This is significant, because the previous year (2018) was pretty flat for overall and digital giving at a 1.5% and 1.2% increase, respectively.

2. The 62 Year-Olds Got a Year Older

In 2018, the average donor age was 62 years old. Interestingly, in 2019, the average donor age was 63 years old. I guess those 62 year-olds in 2018 kept on pulling their weight the following year. I wonder if the average age for the 2020 report will be 64. Hmmm?

3. Here’s Another Dollar

The average online gift in 2018 was $147. Fast forward 12 months and it’s $148. Sure, it’s the difference of a buck, but it’s still an increase. In 2017, the average gift was $132, so the welcome upward trend in the average online gift continues.

4. No Plateau for Mobile Giving Yet

The amount of online gifts made through mobile devices continues to trend up. In 2019, 26% of online gifts were made through a mobile device. To clarify, this means that 75% of online gifts are still coming through desktop computers and 25% are coming through smartphones and tablets. In 2018, 24% of gifts were made from mobile devices (9% in 2014), so I don’t see this slowing down until we hit the 40%-50% mark in upcoming years. How’s your donation page looking these days? Is it optimized for mobile?

5. Offline vs. Online Donor Retention Differences

When it comes to donor retention it’s a little unique between the online and offline channel. For example, first year offline-only donors retain at a rate of 27% versus 24% of online only donors. However, from 2018–2019, first-year donor retention decreased for offline-only and increased for online-online. On top of that, multi-year donors had a higher rate of retention in online-only (63%) versus offline-only (57%). In the case of multi-year retention, both online and offline decreased slightly from the previous year. They questions you should dig into your own organization and ask are 1) Why are our first-year online-only donors not retaining like offline-only donors and 2) Why are our multi-year online donors retaining at a higher level than offline donors? Either way, you should have a sustainer strategy in place to retain donors year-over-year.

Note: What was not clear from the report was how donors are classified that give in both online and offline.

6. A Welcome Change

For the first time, the Blackbaud Charitable Giving Report broke out average overall donation and average online donation by sub-sector. This is a wonderful change for nonprofits that may have previously viewed these reports and felt like they were performing subpar for industry standards. For example, as mentioned above, the 2019 average digital gift was $148; however, the average digital gift for Animal Welfare was just $60. Prior to Blackbaud breaking this out separately, Animal Welfare organizations may have thought its average gifts were dismal compared to the industry benchmark. On the flip side, Healthcare nonprofits had an average gift of $336, so maybe they thought they were previously crushing it if their average gifts were slightly higher than the industry average. This change in reporting out average gift by sub-sector is pretty huge.

Overall, it’s great to see fundraising increase across the board, and making larger gains in online fundraising. So, what are your thoughts on this year’s report? What surprises did you see, or what validated your nonprofit’s fundraising performance?

If you’re interested in the full report, you can download it from Blackbaud here.

Do you work for a nonprofit? Consider joining Fundraisers Unite and gain access to monthly fundraising and marketing training, weekly live coaching, and downloadable marketing templates for nonprofits. Learn more here!

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