5 key insights from Blackbaud’s 2021 Charitable Giving Report.

Mar 17, 2022

If you’re familiar with our blog, you know that data-driven fundraising is an essential part of our approach to nonprofit communications. And while it’s important to analyze your own donor data, it’s helpful to keep a finger on the pulse of the larger trends in our industry.

The Blackbaud Institute’s 2021 Charitable Giving Report is a great resource for that information! The US report is based on giving data from 8,635 participating nonprofits and online fundraising data from 4,535 nonprofit organizations.

We’ve reviewed the report and compiled some of the key findings in this blog post for you! And we’ll share a bit about the implications these findings will have for fundraisers and nonprofit organizations everywhere.

Overall, the report paints a positive picture of our industry’s future. The Blackbaud Institute’s data shows nonprofits are putting new tools and approaches to work and are raising more money as a result.

Here are five of the most important takeaways we gleaned from the 2021 report:

1. Charitable giving is up overall.

Organizations surveyed by Blackbaud reported a 9 percent growth in overall giving year-over-year, with a 19 percent increase in overall giving over the last three years.

And while online giving also grew 9 percent year-over-year, looking a few years back paints an even more promising picture. Responding organizations reported a 42 percent increase in online giving over the last three years!

It’s great to see nonprofits raising more overall. After all, that’s more money that will be used to make the world a better place!

And we love to see that more organizations are taking their fundraising to the next level and raising more money online than ever before!

READ MORE: Are you making these fundraising communications mistakes?

Overall, donor retention rates are down compared to data from Blackbaud's 2020 report.

2. Nonprofits need to focus on retention.

It’s great that giving is up overall. But donor retention continues to be a concern for nonprofits. According to Blackbaud’s data, online donor retention is down from a year ago. The retention rate for offline-only donors has remained more or less the same.

Responding nonprofits reported that first-year online-only donors were retained at a rate of 23 percent. This is down from 25 percent for the same group in last year’s report. The online retention rate for multi-year donors was also down to 64 percent from 66 percent in 2020.

While slightly better, the data for offline-only donors wasn’t much more encouraging. First-year donors who gave offline only were retained at a rate of 29 percent in 2021 and 2020. Offline only donors who gave in multiple years were retained at a rate of 60 percent in 2021, which is up marginally from 59 percent in 2020.

As the saying goes, if you’re not improving, you’re falling behind.

The data in this report shows nonprofits need to use more non-ask touches and put more effort into their donor retention strategies.

READ MORE: When communications flow, relationships grow!

Nonprofits surveyed by Blackbaud reported a 42% increase in online giving over the last three years!

3. Online fundraising is holding strong.

According to Blackbaud’s 2021 Charitable Giving Report, 12 percent of total fundraising was from online sources in 2021. This is actually down from 13 percent a year ago. However, nonprofits still raised more money online this year than last.

According to Blackbaud, this fluctuation is to be expected. So, this figure shouldn’t be taken as a sign that fewer donors prefer to give online now than a year ago.

Rather, it is a meaningful indicator that online giving continues to increase compared to pre-pandemic levels.

READ MORE: Let’s talk about your online donation page.

28% of online contributions in 2021 came from a mobile device.

4. Making more out of mobile.

Mobile fundraising strategies are helping nonprofits raise more money online. Nonprofits surveyed by Blackbaud reported that 28 percent of online contributions in 2021 came from a mobile device.

And fundraisers continue to see steady increases in the number of mobile donations they receive year after year. Mobile contributions accounted for just 9 percent of online fundraising revenue back in 2014.

What percent of your nonprofit’s online fundraising comes from mobile users? If you’re not keeping up with the organizations in Blackbaud’s report, we recommend prioritizing a mobile fundraising strategy this year!

READ MORE: Why mobile optimization is crucial for nonprofits.

FREE eBOOK: Ask strings and the science of securing support.

5. Online fundraising is for everyone.

We’ve been telling you that digital fundraising strategies aren’t just for huge nonprofits with seemingly limitless resources. And Blackbaud’s data backs us up!

So now is the time to think more strategically about your online fundraising strategy if you’re not already!

While large nonprofits did see the most growth, organizations of all sizes reported significant increases in online fundraising revenue between 2020 and 2021.

  • Small nonprofits raised 3.9 percent more online.
  • Medium nonprofits raised 8.7 percent more online.
  • Large nonprofits raised 9.8 percent more online.

In Blackbaud’s report, organizations with annual fundraising totals over $10 million were considered large nonprofits. Medium sized nonprofits raised between $1 million and $10 million a year, while organizations with less than $1 million in annual revenue were considered small nonprofits.

READ MORE: How to maximize the value of small dollar donations.

How do you compare?

We hope these key findings from Blackbaud’s 2021 Charitable Giving Report help get the wheels turning so you can start thinking differently about your nonprofit’s fundraising outreach. However, Blackbaud warns the data in their report is only as valuable as you make it. And we agree!

It’s helpful to have benchmarks to compare to your own organization’s data. But the information in this report can only help you if your own data is accurate. And you need to be willing to make changes based on what you learn when you compare your results against industry benchmarks.

So, use this data to identify areas where you are underperforming comparatively. Then, think strategically about how to improve it.

Of course, we’re happy to talk about your unique situation and offer some advice if you’re not sure how to apply what you’ve learned.

Finally, don’t forget to pat yourself on the back for your hard work in areas where you perform above average! And don’t be afraid to share what works for you with other fundraisers, so we can all work together to make the world a better place!

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