A look back, a look forward: three big ideas for 2017

January 13, 2017

As we enter a new year of philanthropy, Senior Vice President Pat House, Ed.D. offers a 2016 industry recap that focuses on the themes of promise, challenge, and possibility.

Today, we start with promise:

The June Giving USA 2016 report shared the good news that 2015 was America’s most generous year ever for charitable contributions, totaling more than $373 billion. Contributions from all sources were up, and giving to education reflected a strong increase above 5%. More encouraging reports followed throughout 2016:

  • According to the latest Coutts Million Dollar Donors Report, donations of ₤1m or more in the United Kingdom were up by 19 percent in 2015. There were 355 donations of ₤1m or more in 2015, compared with 298 in 2014. Higher education was the primary designation, accounting for more than one-third of the overall value.
  • The latest estimate for dollars raised online on #GivingTuesday 2016 is $168 million; last year’s estimate was $116.7 million (as reported in the November 30, 2016 Chronicle of Philanthropy). Gift totals are estimates based on data from 28 online platforms processing gifts. One of those, Blackbaud reported processing more than $47.7 million in online gifts that day, a 20% increase compared to 2015. The University of Michigan alone raised more than $5.5 million compared with $4.36 million raised on Giving Tuesday in 2015. In the U.K., a record 1,600 charities and businesses participated in Giving Tuesday this year.
  • In spite of challenges within the global economy, the percentage of people donating to charity has increased by 4% since 2011, according to The CAF World Giving Index 2016.
  • The 2016 U.S Trust® Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy Report indicates that 91% of high net worth households gave to charity in 2015. Nearly 45% gave to education (33.4% to K-12 schools and 31.3% to higher education). Education overall received the third-highest share of high net worth charitable dollars.
  • The impending change in U.S. presidential leadership has posed questions regarding the status of charitable giving incentives. However, the 2016 U.S Trust® Study of High Net Worth Philanthropy Report cited above indicates that 66.7% of high net worth households would maintain or increase their charitable giving even if income tax deductions for charitable giving were to be eliminated.

While uncertainty looms for 2017, history and our research (just some examples can be found here and here) have shown the application of best practices with attention to donor behavior and innovative outreach have proven to be on fundraising’s side.

Next, we’ll report on challenge. Stay tuned.

– Pat House, Ed. D., Senior Vice President, Client and Consultant Development


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