The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and Giving USA released The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2011 on Tuesday. In its 57th publication, the report aims to take a pulse of yearly giving to charitable organizations.
The report indicated that last year saw an overall 4 percent increase (.9 percent when adjusted for inflation) in giving. While individual giving has slightly improved in 2011, corporate giving remained the same as the previous year.
Most subsectors received as much or more than the funds they received in 2010. These subsectors included education, human services, health, public-society, the arts, environment, and individuals. The religion subsector saw a 2 percent drop in donations, although still receiving the most contributions of any subsector. Foundations also saw a decrease in contributions, though giving from this subsector slightly increased.
Overall, charitable giving has not experienced significant change in the last three years and continues to follow the trend of limited growth. Nonprofits can expect to continue to endure limited donor contributions for the next five to ten years.
Dr. Richard Waters, University of San Francisco professor in Nonprofit and Public Administration, explains, “Despite the rough year the American economy experienced in 2011, people saw the need for philanthropic support in their communities, and they responded. Nonprofit organizations need to take an important lesson away from the most recent Giving USA report, donor cultivation is vital to their livelihood and longevity. Corporations and foundations are not the cornerstone of the nonprofit sector; the individual donor is. Nonprofits must shift their fundraising priorities to getting to know individuals at greater levels than ever before, listening and responding to their questions and concerns, and truly becoming partners with their donors rather than viewing them as a marketing outlet and potential contribution. “
The Giving USA report typically is widely reported, sometimes in conjunction with reports of other surveys looking to benchmark giving and the challenges facing nonprofits. One benefit of the Giving USA report is the consistency in the methodology used to collect and analyze the data. This makes it useful in identifying any obvious trends or turning points. What we find with this year’s report should not be surprising or particularly alarming, given all that nonprofits have already endured over the last few years. Perhaps we will see more call for celebration in next year’s report.