Giving USA 2015 Report

October 5, 2015

The latest Giving USA data was released in June 2015:

  • Giving went up again, slightly exceeding the benchmark year of 2007.
  • The total donated to charity in 2014 was more than $358 billion.
  • Individuals are still the giving force behind the high total; mega-gifts are also growing.
  • Religion still accounts for the largest percentage of donations.
  • Giving to education increased 4.9 percent.

There is so much more a school leader can yield from the Giving USA report. To help you make the most of the report’s findings in planning your fundraising strategies, Graham-Pelton has prepared this checklist.

  1. Share a summary of the findings with your leadership and Board to help them understand the philanthropic landscape. This knowledge helps build trust from your Board and leadership as you seek their support in initiating campaigns or setting annual fundraising goals.
  2. Compare your giving mix to that of Giving USA. For example, individuals comprised approximately three-quarters of the nation’s total giving in 2014; your efforts should be more heavily focused on building a major gifts pipeline from your annual giving program, and cultivating and soliciting those major gifts by individuals.
  3. Focus also on your planned giving program efforts. Giving by bequest increased 13.6 percent in 2014. Include sample bequest language, easy-to-understand planned giving definitions, and planned gift donor testimonials on your website and in fundraising materials.
  4. Consider creating the “big” ideas your institution might share with mega-gift level donors. These types of donors look for transformational opportunities and Graham-Pelton finds “co-creation” to be an operative word in securing these gifts.
  5. If you are a religiously affiliated school, reflect on the reality that giving to the religion sector, while still the top recipient, has been declining each year.Without abandoning your important faith traditions, consider telling your story in broader terms that appeal to prospective donors who may not identify with a religion or be active worshippers.
  6. Is your case for support a truly compelling one? Is the impact of what your school produces presented in a compelling, easy-to-read (or hear, or see) way? Is your case all about you or does it demonstrate to donors that supporting your school can really be all about them?
  7. Be prepared to respond to generational influences on future giving. “Meet” younger alumni where they are likely to be communicating most – in the digital world. Make supporting their alma mater as socially engaging and rewarding as giving to other organizations.

-Patricia House, Senior Vice President

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