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March 18th, 2019

In late February, Blackbaud Institute released its latest snapshot of philanthropy in the United States with its 2018 Charitable Giving Report, using information from 9,029 nonprofit organizations that raised $31.9 billion in 2018. The Report also broke out online versus offline results from 5,537 nonprofits that represented $2.7 billion in online fundraising in 2018.

Key takeaways from the Report include:

  • Overall charitable giving increased 1.5% on a year-over-year basis, with large organizations growing slightly faster at 2.3% at the expense of smaller nonprofits (down 2.3%).
  • Overall online giving grew slightly slower than offline at 1.2% in 2018, with larger organizations experiencing a decrease of 0.5%.
  • Although the percentage of online giving reached a record high in 2018, it still accounted for only 8.5% of overall revenue. Interestingly enough, 24% of online transactions used a mobile device (phone, iPad, etc.), demonstrating that “thinking mobile” is now required.
  • Across sectors, Animal Welfare (+5.1%) and Arts and Culture (+5.5%) experienced the highest growth, while Medical Research (-2.2%) and K-12 Education (-0.1%) lost ground. Environmental was de-linked from Animal Welfare in this report, experiencing the sharpest decline (down 2.9%) in 2018 after an outstanding 2017 due to the “Trump bump.” All other sectors experienced modest growth from 0.3% to 2.1%.

Interestingly enough, 24% of online transactions used a mobile device (phone, iPad, etc.), demonstrating that “thinking mobile” is now required.

  • One key sector to keep an eye on is Foundations (+2.4%) even though Foundation revenue is not part of the overall trends–this revenue is only counted once the Foundation makes a gift to a specific charity. The new tax laws probably helped lead to the 2.4% increase and highlights the need for charities to focus efforts on Donor Advised Funds and other ways to “break loose” those charitable dollars.
  • In the online space, both International Relief (down 8.3%) and Animal Welfare (down 3%) suffered the most, probably due to fewer emergencies. Overall, online giving continues to grow, up some 9% overall since 2016, with modest gains every year since 2013.
  • Probably the most amazing statistic was for gift size: the median gift for donors above $1,000 was $2,049 … while the median gift for under-$1,000 donors was only $20. The bifurcation of charitable donations is becoming extreme, with major implications for fundraising efforts.

Many thanks to the Blackbaud Institute for Philanthropic Impact for its research and insights in the charitable giving space. The full report is available at or by request.

Blog written by Ron Bell | Founder

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