Sustaining 2019's Record Giving Will Require Adaptation

Giving USA webinar recommends how to fundraise in the “new normal”

screen shot of panelists and PowerPoint presentation during the online eventFor over 5 years, AFP-SEWI has been partnering with Campbell & Company to bring the most recent Giving USA data to local fundraising professionals. Giving USA is the longest running annual report on charitable giving that provides estimates for sources of giving and amounts received by type of organization. On June 18, 2020, over 70 fundraisers joined this year’s data presentation and panel discussion virtually, due to COVID-19 recommendations against large in-person gatherings. 

A review of the data, provided by Melissa Berliner, vice president at Campbell & Company, showed that $449B was given to nonprofit organizations in 2019, from the following sources: Individuals (69%), Foundations (17%), Bequests (10%), and Corporations (5%). It is important to recognize that family foundations are categorized under Foundations. Therefore, individuals, once again, comprise the largest source of giving. 

We closed 2019 with record-setting giving but were quickly forced to make considerable adjustments in early 2020 to donor cultivation, service delivery, and other activities as a result of both the COVID-19 global pandemic and an increased focus on advancing anti-racist efforts.

Before introducing and welcoming the panelists, Berliner offered the following recommendations to best adapt to the evolving circumstances:
•    Be clear about your mission and the impact your organization has
•    Build consensus and focus around where you want to be on the other side of the crisis; know what you need
•    Invest in virtual yet meaningful engagement
•    Adopt a test and learn culture
•    Focus on donor retention and stewardship; stay in touch
•    Recognize that every donor is in a different place and adjust strategy accordingly
•    Don’t stop (but remember to take care of self)

The panelists reinforced these recommendations. Hector Colon, president & CEO of Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, shared that his organization quickly shifted to provide telehealth in order to adapt service delivery to best meet the needs of their clients. Prior to the onset of COVID-19, telehealth accounted for 0% of community based service revenue but now accounts for 70-80%. 

Liz Powell, president & CEO of Racine Community Foundation, highlighted the need to adapt to donors. She said, “Donors want to do something. They don’t want to sit on the sidelines.”

And Frank Cumberbatch, vice president of engagement at Bader Philanthropies, spoke of the need for funders to work in partnership to ensure that there was an immediate availability of emergency funds for community organizations. 

To view the full session recording and hear more from the panelists, click here.