EOY Guidance on Philanthropy

Thirty-five years of experience in philanthropy has taught me that the last ten weeks of the year is the most consequential time for the non-profit sector, as donors respond to increased needs for funding in their communities.

This year’s challenges have been significant to say the least, and has caused many to pause and reflect on the type of legacy they want to leave behind. This is demonstrated in philanthropy through increased giving. It is notable with respect to an increase we’ve observed in small giving, and the data also shows that bequests have increased substantially.

Despite all the turmoil of 2020, philanthropy has been a bright point for the past five months. A recent New York Times article summed up this sentiment. Additionally, small gifts ($250 and under) increased by six percent in Q1 2020, compared to Q1 2019, according to an AFP survey. Finally, a Fidelity Charitable Survey in March showed that almost 80% of donors didn’t anticipate reducing their philanthropy due to the current environment. Indeed, a fourth of them planned to increase their giving. We have seen the spirit of philanthropy endure through this data and through our interactions with our clients, and are working to ensure they finish the year strong.

Far from retreating from their philanthropic commitments amidst hard times, the American Spirit of Generosity is soaring. That spirit of generosity must be nurtured, though. We said in March that in order to thrive in this environment, it will be vital for organizations to stay involved and engaged in the philanthropic life of their donors and the community. We said that family matters now more than ever, and that by being proactive about your donor communications, you can endear yourself to your community in such a way that they view you as part of their broader family. Indeed, several of our clients have seen increased annual and major gifts since March thanks to cultivating that type of relationship.

If you haven’t already instituted a system to stay engaged in the lives of your donors, we highly encourage that you do so and stand ready to assist however we can.