USM Foundation

Fundraising Talks – August 2021

on August 21, 2021 by Micaela Cameron
Reflecting pool on campus

News and updates from the USM Office of Advancement Research

Letter from the Director

Since our last Fundraising Talks newsletter, uncertainty is growing as we learn more about COVID-19’s variants. However, data recently released by the U.S. government indicates that the country’s consumer economy is returning to normal, which may be good news for fundraisers. Meanwhile, higher education institutions may still be assessing the full impact of COVID-19 on their fundraising efforts, especially in their strategic approach to philanthropy, engagement of alumni, and advancement operations.

A July 2021 report titled, The Giving Environment: Understanding Pre-Pandemic Trends in Charitable Giving by The Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, takes a look at the landscape of philanthropy prior to COVID-19. Many recent reports indicate that charitable giving was high during the pandemic, thanks to giving to COVID-19-related causes. However, data from this report on pre-pandemic trends reveals a more nuanced set of findings.

  • There has been a steady decline in the number of American households that donate to charity since the Great Recession of 2008.
  •  In 2018, the percentage of American households that donated to charity decreased to 49.6 percent, in comparison to 66.2 percent in 2000.
  • There is a decline in giving to religious causes compared to giving to secular causes. 46.5 percent of American households donated to religious causes in 2000. This fell to 29 percent in 2018.
  • The average amount donated to religious causes decreased from $1,107 in 2000 to $771 in 2008, whereas the average amount donated to secular causes decreased from $684 in 2000 to $509 in 2018.
  • Giving rates declined for all racial groups (Black, white, Hispanic, other), but giving amounts only declined for Blacks, whites, and Hispanics.
  • Just over one third of the decline in giving participation can be attributed to changes in income and wealth.
  • There has been a decline in trust and giving rates among younger and older Americans.

We have also learned from other reports, such as the Giving USA 2021 report, and the 2021 First Quarter Fundraising Report from the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, that there has been an increase in charitable giving in 2020. Many donors were willing to support social causes impacted by the pandemic – an improvement from pre-pandemic times. When taking this into consideration to enhance fundraising efforts at our institutions, we should consider adapting some of the strategies we used during the pandemic. This might include encouraging digital engagement and increasing donor retention by successfully communicating and stewarding existing supporters. An increase in trust between donors and institutions will definitely help with future fundraising.

I hope you are enjoying your summer and are ready for the fall. As always, feel free to reach out us with questions, comments or any assistance with prospect research!

Best Regards,
Sapna and USM Advancement Research Team

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