By Amy Wong – President 

Every year at Dot Org Solutions, we take time to evaluate trends in giving and marketing to determine how to best guide our clients. Our go-to reports are compiled by respected companies in nonprofit data and communications. Overall, these reports highlight key facts and trends to help us develop plans, educate boards and implement campaigns for clients.

Much of what we learn from these reports isn’t surprising – we often see the same trends in our client work. Having our observations backed up by data is an added bonus and supports the work we do.

We know many nonprofits don’t have time to review these reports, let alone analyze the data and figure out how it applies to them. So, for some of our upcoming blog posts, we will provide key takeaways from these reports and insights into how nonprofits can use the data to shape their marketing and fundraising work in 2018.

For this particular blog post, I sought information from the Blackbaud Institute for Philanthropic Impact 2017 Charitable Giving Report and Nonprofit Tech for Good’s 2017 Global Trends in Giving Report. Both reports provide key data on giving by sector, type of gift, ways of giving, demographics of giving and more. The Blackbaud 2017 Charitable Giving Report focuses on organizations based in the United States, whereas the Global Trends in Giving Report addresses international giving trends.

While the links below do include downloadable, full reports, here are some of the key findings from the 2017 Charitable Giving Report and the 2017 Global Trends in Giving Report:

Key data from Blackbaud’s 2017 Charitable Giving Report:

  • Giving was up 4.1 percent in 2017. A strong stock market, political issues and natural disasters all had influence on giving, as well as changes to tax laws.
  • Online giving grew 12.1 percent.
  • 6 percent of all fundraising came from online giving. Small organizations (under $1 million raised) generate 13.9 percent of gifts online.
  • 21 percent of online transactions were made using a mobile device.
  • International Affairs organizations had the largest giving growth. Giving to faith-based nonprofits grew most online. Arts and culture and K–12 education both saw declines in overall giving.
  • December remains the top month for fundraising, but giving continues to be spread across the year.
  • #GivingTuesday brought in 28 percent more via online giving.


Key data from Nonprofit Tech for Good’s 2017 Global Trends in Giving Report:

  • North American donors are predominately women (75 percent) and ideologically liberal (63 percent).
  • 62 percent of donors prefer to give online. Millennials mostly support human and civil rights. Baby boomers support religious services and faith-based organizations. Generation X gives the most to help animals.
  • 91 percent of donors say positive emotions, such as hope and empathy, are motivating factors behind giving.
  • 42 percent of online donors worldwide say social media inspires them to give. Facebook is the number one social media site of inspiration.
  • 32 percent are inspired by messages via email. 57 percent say an email sparked their interest in attending a philanthropic event.



You have the data… now what should you do?  

Data is great, but you need to know what to do with it and how it relates to your organization.

Here are two key insights I gained from the data:

  1. Regardless of technological advances, donor relationships are important.


It’s no secret that nonprofits are competing for the same donors. And donors that are valued and informed will keep giving to your organization.

But how competitive is it to get a donor? The Blackbaud 2017 Charitable Giving Report shows that the average donor in the United States is 64 years old and gives an average of two gifts per year. Of those donors that give off-line (mail, phone, in person ask, event, etc.), only 31 percent give two years in a row. Online donor retention rate is only 25 percent. Now look at the nonprofit that has engaged its donors. For offline donors who give two years in a row, the retention rate jumps to 61 percent. For online donors, that rate is even higher at 64 percent.

What this means is that you must engage your donors more than ever. Just because technology has changed the way we communicate and receive information, it doesn’t mean we forego forging meaningful relationships, whether your target audiences are baby boomers, who are driven by personal relationships, or millennials, who are interested in how their gifts are being used.

To engage your donors:

  • Thank them quickly, genuinely and often.
  • Let them know how their gift is being used.
  • Show how they are important and provide value to your nonprofit.
  • Talk to them about how your nonprofit makes a difference.
  • Let them “see” your organization in action – whether it is in person or through media.
  • Pick up the phone once in a while.
  • Send a hand-written thank you note.


  1. Speaking of technology – if you aren’t using it, rethink your strategy.


Think about how many ways you communicate on a daily basis. Personally, I actively work with three email accounts, two active social media accounts, multiple e-newsletter platforms and several project management tools once a day.

I’m certainly not alone. In fact, donors of all ages are using various communications channels and devices to get their information. They expect feedback and information – often immediately. And nonprofits who recognize this will continue to raise more money in the long run.

Consider these following points when rethinking your donor communications:

  • You must be on various communications platforms (social media, electronic newsletters, mobile-friendly website). If you aren’t, you need to start.
  • Make a plan that includes information other than a donor ask.
  • Remember that a mailed solicitation letter isn’t enough. It must be followed up with email and social media posts to gain most impact. (Make a plan, so it isn’t random.)
  • Be in front of donors regularly. There are so many cost-effective ways to communicate with your donors. Sure, you can have that semi-annual printed newsletter, but supplement it with electronic news and social media posts for maximum impact.
  • Give donors opportunities to make gifts on their own without an ask.
  • Have a “give” button on every page of your website and on every electronic newsletter. Display these buttons prominently on your website and electronic communications.
  • You must tell a story as to why gifts are needed and make your nonprofit relatable. Use your mobile device to take video or photos of your nonprofit in action. You never know when a story may create an impulse to give.
  • Show your donors how their gifts are being used to help others through “thank you” videos or photos.
  • Use your social media to engage with donors. Don’t just push out information – engage with them.



So much information is available to us that it can become overwhelming at times. But, if used correctly, we can make substantive changes in the way we do things. Thanks again to the Blackbaud Institute for Philanthropic Impact and Nonprofit Tech for Good for the helpful data – and thank you, our blog readers, for taking the time to learn more and grow