National Philanthropy Day—November 15—marks the beginning of the charitable donation season, with 77 percent of global donors inspired to give during the holiday season and 31 percent of donations occurring in December.  As the season of charitable donations kicks off, what inspires generosity?


In this Harvard study of non-profit organizations, “Charitable giving to non-profits and non-governmental organizations (NPOs and NGOs) has been used over the years to eliminate the root causes of social problems and sustain the continuing progress of nations.” In fact, NPOs and NGOs are the most rapidly growing types of organizations in the world. In the 2017 Global Trends in Giving Report, a survey of more than 4,000 people spanning 95 countries, 92 percent “believe that NPOs and NGOs are ethical and can be trusted,” with 96 percent saying that these groups are “essential for creating social change.”



Global Trends in Giving

Charitable giving by individuals far outweighs corporate giving in the United States. In 2016, Americans gave $389.05 billion, followed by foundation-giving at $58.28 billion, and corporate giving at $18.55 billion.


Donors are also overwhelmingly women, with an increasingly global perspective. In the global report, 73 percent of donors were women, compared with 26 percent men. And among the respondents, 45 percent were giving across borders, most commonly to areas in abject poverty or in refugee crises like India, Syria, and Kenya.


Empathy-based Storytelling

Great brands are in the business of good. Human-centered, empathy-based messaging is essential to making meaningful connections with donors and in building the case for giving. Ninety-one percent of donors said messages of hope and empathy inspire their giving.


Digital Tools Drive Donations


An integrated mix of communications tactics is best, but the report shows that NPOs and NGOs are driving donations at a faster pace with the use of digital tools. Millennials, Gen Xers, and Baby Boomers all prefer to give online—62 percent, 59 percent, and 59 percent, respectively. In fact, the generations are almost identical in their giving preferences, with one exception: direct mail is popular with Baby Boomers (19 percent), less popular with Gen Xers (11 percent), and the least popular with Millennials (10 percent).


Building digital trust starts with your URL. While 97 percent of donors agree that NPOs and NGOs are essential for creating social change, a large majority (72 percent) trust a website ending with .org versus one ending with .ngo (6 percent).


Email builds awareness. Thirty-eight percent of online donors worldwide say that email most often inspires them to give, and 57 percent say that email is how they first learned about a fundraising event that they recently attended.

Social Media

Social media drives meaningful connections. Seventy-five percent of donors say they rely on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to feel a connection to their causes. Another 25 percent say posts by charitable organizations directly inspire them to give, a process that’s become ever easier as Facebook has added donation tabs and Facebook and Twitter can easily embed calls for crowdsourcing from groups like GoFundMe.


Peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising creates intimate communities around causes. P2P campaigns have the power to reach audiences through individual supporters that solicit their own networks for donations. It is considered one of the most powerful fundraising tactics in the era of social media because it expands the reach of organizations by engaging current supporters to raise funds for its cause. Thirty-five percent of respondents said they have donated to a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign within the past 12 months.

Match-based Urgency

Challenge-based or corporate-matched campaigns create a sense of urgency, momentum and gaming to the cause. Donors can track their impact, along with the progress of other individuals, and recognize that the potential for good can double or triple during these events. It reinforces the concept that the community does better when we work together. In Minnesota, GiveMN celebrates with Give to the Max Day, a corporate-match campaign on November 16.


Mobile is the donation preference. When asked which fundraising concept donors would be most likely to use, donor responses revealed: 66 percent prefer a two-tap mobile app that earns badges and redeemable points.

In a world facing complex challenges, hats off to the global community of donors who are using innovative digital tools to maximize impact for good.

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