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Top 5 Ways Nonprofits Can Use Giving USA

Jeffery ByrneJeffrey D. Byrne, President + CEO

Every year, I truly enjoy pouring over the data in Giving USA.  But I also realize Giving USA is so much more than the annual report on philanthropy – it’s a valuable tool to help improve philanthropy.   Nonprofit organizations can use Giving USA to help identify trends in their sector as well as successes and opportunities for improvement in resource development.

Here are my top 5 ways to “own the numbers” and use Giving USA to improve your nonprofit fundraising efforts:

5.  Identify the factors impacting philanthropy in general and in your subsector; benchmark your fundraising performance against national averages and adjust fundraising strategies accordingly

4.  Understand the correlations between giving and other economic factors, such as the stock market, personal disposable income and GDP — these are trends closely monitored by even those working “outside” the philanthropy sector; educate Board members, constituencies and prospective donors about these factor that influence giving

3.  Confirm or dispel myths about giving; help manage expectations about giving and set realistic and achievable goals

2.  Educate Board members, volunteers, donors and staff about the broad context of philanthropic giving; help them better understand your organization’s funding patterns and potential

1.  Become familiar with the reported motivations behind household charitable giving; tailor conversations and appeals to match the interests of donors

And remember…

Be flexible: nonprofit fundraising must evolve as philanthropy evolves.  We are seeing an increase in the popularity of non-traditional giving vehicles and donors want more evidence of the impact of their gifts.

Be cognizant of the “individual giving effect”:  an estimated 88% of total giving in 2015 came from individuals, bequests and family foundations.  This drives home the importance of developing and maintaining meaningful relationships.

Strengthen your case for support:  the best cases are realistic, relevant and compelling while being supported by the facts and clearly communicating the purpose, programs and financial needs of your organization.

Celebrate your impact: Americans give an average of $1 billion a day to help others.  Giving continues to grow, and there is confidence it will return to or exceed pre-recession levels.  Nonprofits and donors are doing great work.

Giving makes a difference, to both giver and recipient, but there is undoubtedly room to do more.  So spread the word about the good philanthropy has done – and the good it will continue to do.


I’m happy to share the two traditional pie charts illustrating 2015 source contributions and recipients. Click here to download.

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