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Key Takeaways from the Giving USA Annual Philanthropy Report

The latest Giving USA report, published in June 2024, offers a comprehensive overview of the state of philanthropy in 2023.

It highlights a critical issue: the nonprofit sector's increasing and unsustainable reliance on wealthy donors.

Woodrow Rosenbaum, chief data officer for GivingTuesday, emphasized this point, stating, "The nonprofit world’s reliance on wealthy donors is a problem. Everyday donors will likely continue to fall away unless nonprofits work hard to bring them back into the fold."

The report presents a mixed picture of charitable giving in 2023. On the one hand, total giving reached an all-time high of $557.16 billion in current dollars, marking a 1.9% increase from the previous year.

However, this growth did not keep pace with the 4.1% inflation rate, resulting in a 2.1% decline in inflation-adjusted terms. Despite the resilience shown by nonprofits, there is a pressing need for strategic shifts to ensure long-term sustainability.

Key Statistics from the Giving USA 2024 Report

  1. Total Giving: $557.16 billion, a 1.9% increase in current dollars but a 2.1% decrease when adjusted for inflation.

  2. Individual Giving: $374.40 billion, up 1.6% in current dollars but down 2.4% after inflation adjustments.

  3. Foundation Giving: $103.53 billion, up 1.7% in current dollars but down 2.3% after inflation adjustments.

  4. Bequests: $42.68 billion, a 4.8% increase in current dollars and flat at 0.6% after inflation adjustments.

  5. Corporate Giving: $36.55 billion, a 3.0% increase in current dollars but a 1.1% decrease after inflation adjustments.

These figures reflect a complex reality: while the total amount of giving is growing, the value of those donations is eroding due to inflation. This scenario underscores the urgency for nonprofits to adapt and engage a broader base of donors.

The Challenge: Declining Everyday Donors

A significant concern highlighted in the report is the decline in everyday donors. Individual giving, which accounts for the majority of charitable contributions, decreased by 2.4% after adjusting for inflation. This trend is alarming because it indicates a shrinking donor base, which could jeopardize the sustainability of nonprofits.

The reliance on wealthy donors is a double-edged sword. While their contributions are substantial, they also introduce volatility. Economic downturns or changes in donor priorities can significantly impact funding levels. To build a resilient nonprofit sector, it is crucial to re-engage everyday donors and diversify the donor base.

Strategies for Engaging Everyday Donors

The future of nonprofits hinges on how effectively they can engage a broader donor base. Here are several strategies to achieve this goal:

1. Share a Measurable Impact Story

Donors want to see the tangible results of their contributions. Nonprofits must articulate their impact clearly and compellingly. By sharing measurable outcomes and success stories, organizations can demonstrate the return on investment for donors. This approach not only builds trust but also fosters a sense of accomplishment among donors, encouraging them to give again.

At SureImpact, we emphasize the importance of impact measurement. By using data-driven tools, nonprofits can track their progress and communicate their achievements effectively. This transparency is key to building lasting relationships with donors.

2. Promote Donor-Advised Funds

Donor-advised funds (DAFs) offer a flexible and tax-efficient way for individuals to support their favorite causes. Nonprofits should educate donors about the benefits of DAFs and how they can be used to make a significant impact. By providing guidance on setting up and managing DAFs, organizations can tap into this growing source of philanthropy.

3. Foster Giving Circles

Giving circles are a powerful way to engage donors holistically rather than transactionally. These groups bring together like-minded individuals who pool their resources to support a common cause. By fostering a sense of community and shared purpose, giving circles can enhance donor loyalty and increase the overall level of giving.

Nonprofits can facilitate the creation of giving circles within their communities. By providing support and resources, they can help donors connect with each other and amplify their collective impact.

4. Encourage Recurring Giving

Recurring giving programs offer a steady and predictable stream of income for nonprofits. By encouraging donors to set up monthly or quarterly contributions, organizations can reduce their reliance on one-time donations and build a more stable financial foundation.

To promote recurring giving, nonprofits should make the process simple and convenient. Offering incentives, such as exclusive updates or recognition, can also motivate donors to commit to ongoing support.

Adapting to the Future: How Nonprofits Can Show Up

The Giving USA report underscores a critical point: the future of nonprofits depends on how they "show up." Here are some actionable steps organizations can take to adapt and thrive in the evolving philanthropic landscape:

1. Leverage Technology

Technology can play a pivotal role in engaging donors and streamlining operations. Nonprofits should invest in robust donor management systems, digital fundraising platforms, and data analytics tools. These technologies can help organizations understand donor behavior, personalize communication, and optimize fundraising strategies.

2. Focus on Donor Experience

Creating a positive donor experience is essential for retention and growth. Nonprofits should prioritize responsive communication, personalized engagement, and meaningful recognition. By treating donors as valued partners, organizations can build long-term relationships that withstand economic fluctuations.

3. Embrace Innovation

Nonprofits must be willing to experiment with new fundraising models and approaches. This could include virtual events, crowdfunding campaigns, or social media challenges. By staying adaptable and open to innovation, organizations can capture the interest of diverse donor segments.

4. Collaborate and Network

Collaboration with other nonprofits, businesses, and community organizations can amplify impact. By pooling resources and expertise, nonprofits can tackle complex issues more effectively and present a united front to donors. Networking also opens up opportunities for joint fundraising efforts and shared learning.

5. Advocate for Policy Changes

Nonprofits should engage in advocacy to create a favorable environment for philanthropy. This includes pushing for policies that incentivize charitable giving and reduce barriers for donors. By participating in policy discussions and mobilizing their supporters, nonprofits can help shape a more supportive landscape for their work.

Conclusion: Building a Resilient Future

The findings of the Giving USA 2024 report highlight both the challenges and opportunities facing the nonprofit sector. While the reliance on wealthy donors poses risks, there is a clear path forward: engaging everyday donors and demonstrating measurable impact.

Nonprofits that embrace transparency, leverage technology, and innovate in their fundraising approaches will be well-positioned to thrive. By fostering a culture of giving that includes everyone, we can build a more resilient and sustainable nonprofit sector.

At SureImpact, we are committed to helping nonprofits achieve these goals. Together, we can create a future where generosity knows no bounds, and every donor feels valued and engaged.


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