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Top Five Ways Nonprofits Can Use Giving USA 2020

By Jeffrey Byrne

Co-Founder + CEO

Giving USA is a powerful tool. It is the most trusted annual report on the sources and uses of philanthropy in the United States, but it’s also a valuable resource in helping us improve philanthropy.  Although 2019 may feel like a distant memory in light of the transformative events of 2020, nonprofit organizations can still use Giving USA 2020 data to help identify trends as well as opportunities to strengthen their fundraising in the coming years.

Here are my Top Five Ways Nonprofits Can Use Giving USA to improve their fundraising:

5. Understand the correlations between giving and economic factors
The stock market, personal wealth, personal income, GDP, corporate pre-tax profits and unemployment rates impact giving by all four sources (individuals, foundations, bequests and corporations). 2019 was one of the highest years for giving on record due to strong economic conditions. So, what will 2020 bring and how will that dictate fundraising strategies going forward?

The Takeaway: Be aware of changes in these indicators, anticipate how changes will impact donors and adjust fundraising strategies accordingly.

4. Confirm or dispel myths about giving
Economic and political scenarios, complex societal issues, diverse giving platforms, wealth and capacity are just some of the drivers behind philanthropy. We can and should expect that all these drivers will play a role in philanthropic outcomes for 2020.

The Takeaway: Understand the context of these drivers, help manage expectations about giving and set realistic and achievable goals for 2020/2021.

3. Educate Board members, volunteers, donors and staff about the broad context of philanthropic giving. Your constituents should understand how the data informs your decision making when it comes to fundraising.

The Takeaway: Help stakeholders better understand your organization’s funding patterns and potential.

2. Be nimble in your fundraising and stewardship
Nonprofit fundraising must evolve as philanthropy evolves.  We are seeing an increase in the popularity of non-traditional giving vehicles (such as donor-advised funds, grassroots fundraising, non-cash assets) and donors want more evidence of the impact of their gifts.

The Takeaway: Listen to your donors and prospective donors – and tailor your strategies to match their needs and expectations.

1. Recognize the power of the individual – An estimated 95% of total giving in 2019 came from individuals, bequests and family foundations.

The Takeaway: There are human beings involved in every gift. Never stop focusing on developing and maintaining meaningful relationships.

And remember:

Celebrate your impact: Despite the uncertain nature of 2020, Americans still give an average of more than $1 billion a day to help others.  Nonprofits and donors are doing great work and that give me a lot of hope about the future. Whatever is coming up next, we can get through it on the strengths of our generosity as a nation.

I encourage you to download and share with Board members, your CEO or development staff the Giving USA 2020 Infographic illustrating 2019 source contributions and recipients.

About Giving USA
For 65 years, Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy in America, has provided comprehensive charitable giving data that are relied on by donors, fundraisers and nonprofit leaders. The research in this annual report estimates all giving to charitable organizations across the United States. Giving USA is a public outreach initiative of Giving USA Foundation and is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Giving USA Foundation, established in 1985 by The Giving Institute, endeavors to advance philanthropy through research and education. Explore Giving USA products and resources at

About The Giving Institute
The Giving Institute, the parent organization of Giving USA Foundation, consists of member organizations that have embraced and embodied the core values of ethics, excellence and leadership in advancing philanthropy. Serving clients of every size and purpose, from local institutions to international organizations, The Giving Institute member organizations embrace the highest ethical standards and maintain a strict code of fair practices. For information on selecting fundraising counsel, visit


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