Online Charitable Giving Up 11% in 2012: Report

Americans increased their charitable giving to non-profits in 2012, reflecting a continuing rebound since the recession, according to a report issued Monday.

The Blackbaud Charitable Giving Report showed an increase in online giving of 11 percent over the previous year, while overall charitable donations were up 2 percent during that time.

The report is the first to show donations for the entire year, and bases its findings on The Blackbaud Index, which tracks $8 billion in U.S.-based charitable giving each month, and provides the largest analysis of overall and online giving trends in the nonprofit sector.

“2012 continued to show signs of a slow recovery for overall fundraising,” said Steve MacLaughlin, co-author of the Charitable Giving Report and director of Blackbaud’s Idea Lab.

“Online fundraising’s return to significant growth rates is an encouraging sign, although online giving still makes up less than 10 percent of overall giving. Looking ahead, overall giving is not likely to increase significantly until there is sustained growth in new donors, nonprofits rebuild their multi-year donor base, and overall donor retention improves.”

Key findings from the Charitable Giving Report include:

  • Overall giving continued its slow recovery and grew approximately 2% in 2012
  • Online giving grew by about 11% in 2012 compared to 2011
  • Online fundraising accounted for 7% of all giving in 2012, an increase from 2011
  • Small nonprofits had the greatest increase in overall fundraising in 2012, while medium-sized organizations led online
  • Giving throughout 2012 hovered on flat and Superstorm Sandy relief efforts helped boost year-end

According to the report, nonprofit fundraising performance differed greatly based on the size and sector of the organization.

Small nonprofits, with annual total fundraising less than $1 million, grew their fundraising 7.3% compared to 2011. Medium-sized organizations, with annual total fundraising between $1 million and $10 million, had an increase of 2.7% in 2012. Fundraising by large organizations, with annual total fundraising more than $10 million, was up by 0.3%.

Giving to faith-based organizations grew by 6.1% and education institutions also had a positive year with 1.9% growth in fundraising compared to 2011. These two sectors combine for 45% of charitable giving in the US. Arts and culture, as well as environment and animal welfare organizations were the only other sectors to experience fundraising growth in 2012.

International affairs, healthcare, and human services organizations struggled throughout 2012 to achieve fundraising growth. These three sectors all had negative growth rates in 2012 compared to 2011. Public and society organizations had a slight decrease in overall fundraising in 2012.

Online giving by size and sector
Medium-sized nonprofits led the way with a year-over-year increase of 14.3% in their online fundraising. Small nonprofits grew their online fundraising 11.8% compared to 2011. Large organizations grew their online fundraising by 7.2% in 2012 compared to 2011.

Education organizations grew their online fundraising the most in 2012 with an increase of 17.9%. These nonprofits continued to have the largest growth rate for the second consecutive year. Nonprofits in the public and society benefit sector grew 17.1% and human services grew 15.7%. These organizations continued to demonstrate the need for support to donors during challenging economic times. Several of these organizations also saw online giving increase in relation to Superstorm Sandy relief efforts.

The aim of the Charitable Giving Report is to provide a benchmark for giving and help inform nonprofits’ fundraising strategies in 2013. The findings in this report are based on giving data from 3,144 nonprofit organizations and more than $7.9 billion in fundraising revenue. The online fundraising findings are based on data from 2,581 nonprofit organizations and more than $512 million in online fundraising revenue. View more charitable giving trends, and take a closer look at strategies for success by downloading the report at