Study: The Outside Factors That Drive Giving

Whether it’s politics, tech, or the time of year, external factors are playing a bigger role than ever in how people donate, a new Classy study timed to #GivingTuesday finds.

We’re just over a week away from #GivingTuesday, one of the biggest fundraising events for many nonprofits. And the fact that it is such a big annual event highlights a key trend touched upon in a new report on giving.

In a new Why America Gives 2019 report [registration], Classy, the online fundraising tool, says that fundraising is increasingly built around external factors, such as annual events and the political climate.

And #GivingTuesday is one example of this: While overall awareness of the day is low, it’s rising—leaping from 27 percent in 2018 to 37 percent in 2019. And even if everyone doesn’t know about it, according to the study, it still generated $380 million last year, and campaigns that made a point of mentioning the day were far more likely to see success.

In a news release, Classy Cofounder and CEO Scot Chisholm gave nonprofits credit for building awareness of the annual event.

“As we reviewed the survey data while developing our report, we were encouraged to see awareness of Giving Tuesday increase since last year, which is a testament to the great work being done at nonprofit organizations across the country in rallying their supporters,” Chisholm said.

Another factor that seemed to drive much of the giving last year was the news cycle—a trend that seems to be continuing in 2019, according to Classy. The three factors fueling donations this year are the same as last year, including disaster relief (41 percent), animals and the environment (39 percent), and health (35 percent).

Additionally, nearly half of respondents (46 percent) said their political views help to dictate where their money goes—with Republicans slightly more likely to donate to causes based on politics than their Democratic counterparts.

“The past year saw major natural disasters, huge public policy shifts, and significant human rights violations,” the report states. “These issues not only dominate the headlines and political debates, but are powerful events that moved Americans to donate.”

The report adds that while outside events drive donors, it’s still important that nonprofits put in the fundamentals to maximize their impact.

Other key points from the study:

Tech matters. This might seem obvious from #GivingTuesday’s success, but people want digital-friendly donation options, including by computer and smartphone. In fact, if you don’t have digital-friendly options, it can cause issues of trust, especially among millennials (44 percent of whom would be less likely to trust an organization without an online option) and Gen Z (42 percent of whom say the same).

The tax code, however, doesn’t as much. While concerns have lingered about the potential impact of the recent tax reform law on charitable giving, the report finds that more than 40 percent of respondents say the tax law won’t affect their future donations. However, the report notes that part of the reason could be a lack of understanding of the impact of the tax law. “This may not be entirely altruistic,” the report states.

(CarmenMurillo/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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