June 21, 2013

What Giving USA’s Report Means for Charities

Author National Philanthropic Trust

This week, Giving USA, released its annual report—the “gold standard” in philanthropy statistics. NPT hosted a Philadelphia-based event to discuss the findings.

According to the new report, in 2012, total giving increased 2.5 percent. While this level of giving would keep us on a modest pace back to the pre-2007 levels of giving, I think the increase is a reason for charities to be optimistic and also to strive further.

At a time when discretionary income is nearing an all-time low, the fact that giving is keeping up with the economy’s growth is positive. However, for charities, it underscores the importance of making the case for support to new and existing donors. A 2 percent increase in individual giving means it will take another 6-7 years to return to pre-recession levels.

Many charities don’t have that kind of time. They need to capitalize on emerging trends like text and online giving, which grew in 2012; they need to speak to an increasingly engaged next generation while they continue to cultivate the loyal baby boomers; they need to tap into donor-advised funds, which continue to grow at a faster rate than any other giving vehicle. They need to speak to impact, as donors want to see how their money works. They need to do it creatively and soon.

Our Philadelphia event had a great Q&A session with panelists and audience members. If the caliber of these questions and the philanthropy experts’ measured opinions and ideas are any indication, our sector is committed to raising the bar at every level.