What you need to know about the latest Giving USA Report

June 20, 2018

Giving USA 2018, The Annual Report on Philanthropy that shows us, year after year, where the money in nonprofit fundraising really is, has just been released.

The good news:

  • Total estimated US charitable giving increased by 5.2% – to $410.02 billion!
  • Individual giving increased by 5.2%
  • Giving by foundations increased by 6%
  • Giving by bequest is estimated to have increased by 2.3%

The breakdown between sources never really changes all that much. Individual giving still comprises a full 79% of the pie (factoring in 9% for bequest giving). Corporate giving, while showing slight gains, still only makes up 5% of overall giving.

But I always think that the Giving USA Report shows exactly where smart fundraisers (like you) need to be spending the majority of your time.

Individual Donors

Focus in on your individual donors with a laser-like intensity. That means having a plan in place for donor retention, embracing new donors, creating a monthly giving program (and working it), creating your portfolio of stories, having a plan in place for new donors (download your New Donor Timeline here), communicating consistently and well through all channels, and developing your monthly and major donors. Commit to mastering donor-centricity.

Greg Warner of MarketSmart says “The biggest surge was in giving to holding pens such as foundations. Many philanthropists gave their money to their own foundations and donor-advised funds, not directly to charities.” Make it easier for your donors to support your mission using their donor-advised funds today by using the DAFwidget.

Pay attention to your online giving. Steve MacLaughlin notes: “online giving continues to grow at double-digit rates. Through April 2018, online giving was up more than 10.6% on a year-over-year basis.”  Make sure that your organization has the basics in place by making it a regular practice to donate to your own organization online.  Continue to tweak and refine your online donation processes.

Don’t have a bequest program? You’re missing out.

Bequest programs are clearly a no-brainer. Global legacy expert Richard Radcliffe says “Without a clear “legacy vision” you will not give yourself the best chance to succeed. Without a vision there is little to grab hold of to enable a great donor experience.” Don’t over-think it. But do start now. Planned Giving Intensive, from Basics & More™ gives you the tools. Click here to learn more.


The share of foundation grant making totaled $66.90 billion. Since 2001, we’ve been teaching small nonprofits how to effectively build a core base of general operating support from small to mid-sized regional foundations. Why small to mid-sized foundations? Simple: their guidelines are typically not nearly as onerous as the larger foundations. For the one-person development department, that means that your time spent on grants is spent wisely. Smaller, less *known* foundations are often easier to build personal relationships with. What’s more, small foundations typically exceed the five-percent mandated payout.

So what will smart nonprofits be focusing on to drive giving? Retention, smart acquisition, stewardship and making the commitment to donor-centricity.

It’s quite simple really. Your donors love you and want to make a difference. It’s up to you to love them back. (tweet this!)

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