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Study finds 5.2 percent fundraising growth but low retention in 2020

By PND
May 14, 2021

Reprinted from PND.

Total charitable giving increased 5.2 percent on a year-over-year basis in 2020, even as the typical nonprofit saw a drop in fundraising revenue, a report from the GivingTuesday Data Commons finds.

Based on aggregated data from seventy-four giving platforms and issue- and action-specific apps and tools, the report, Giving in Unprecedented Times: A Lookback at 2020 U.S. Giving Data & Trends (38 pages, PDF), found that the growth in overall revenue was driven in part by small donors (between $101 and $500 in total 2020 giving) and “supersize” donors (at least $50,001 in giving), who gave 5.8 percent and 11 percent more, respectively, than they did in 2019. By contrast, giving by mid-size ($501-$5,000) and major donors ($5,001-$50,000) fell 20 percent and 10 percent, while retained supersize donors and recaptured donors of all sizes accounted for about 50 percent and 35 percent of the growth in the dollar amount of giving.

The study also found unprecedented levels of donor mobility in 2020, with the number of new and recaptured donors up 8.2 percent and 8.4 percent on a year-over-year basis, while repeat-retained and new-retained donors fell 5.1 percent and 14.9 percent. And while the overall number of donors rose 1.3 percent, driven by an increase in new small (10.7 percent) and supersize (5.3 percent) donors, donor retention rates declined across all donor categories, with only the largest nonprofits ($5 million to $25 million) seeing an increase. In addition, the median year-over-year change in fundraising revenue across all issue areas was negative, ranging from -2.9 percent for religious organizations to -16.3 percent for arts, culture, and humanities organizations.

According to the study, 2020 saw growth in donations to health nonprofits as COVID-19 emerged as a concern, a spike in giving to human service providers between March and May, and increases in giving in support of public and social benefit organizations as calls for racial justice and equity resounded through late spring into summer and again during election season.

“[The year] 2020 was unique in that it bucked the multiyear trend of fewer donors giving. Even as total charitable giving was up, our analysis shows more clearly that while some cause areas, organizations, and donor categories saw significant gains, others suffered reductions,” said GivingTuesday chief data officer Woodrow Rosenbaum. “Unusual volatility means that the traditional look at sector-wide results doesn't reflect the typical nonprofit experience in 2020. This latest analysis provides a closer look at these trends and through this effort, we've developed new methodology for reporting more actionable, reliable, and timely giving trends.”

Giving in Unprecedented Times: A Lookback at 2020 U.S. Giving Data & Trends,” GivingTuesday Data Commons report, 05/11/2021.

GivingTuesday Data Commons report: Donors shifted and boosted giving in response to crisis in 2020,” GivingTuesday press release, 05/11/2021.

Tags: Novel coronavirus (COVID-19); Giving; Fundraising