Dear Nonprofit Colleagues,

That drop in volunteers and donors is not just at your nonprofit.

In the wake of the mid-term elections, I’d like to share some new data on nonprofit participation.  We are not talking enough about how to address the slow, steady decline of civic engagement in our country, including giving and volunteering. Consider these statistics:

  • The rate of volunteerism has dropped from 65% in 2013 to 56% in 2021, according to Gallup polls.
  • The number of unique volunteers in the US dropped 19% from 2019 to 2021.
  • In 2002, giving reached a high point with 68% of all American households giving. The percentage of households giving declined to less than 50% in 2018.
  • Donations by individual Americans, which decades ago made up as much as 85% of all giving, now accounts for only two-thirds of private philanthropy, according to Giving USA.
  • Donor retention rates have fallen from about half to around 43% over the past 15 years.
  • The number of individuals giving to charitable nonprofits declined 7% in the first half of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021. This ongoing trend is masked somewhat by the fact that the overall amount of charitable giving has stayed steady because of the contributions of the mega-rich.

This is terrible news for nonprofits, and by extension for our communities. These trends are driven largely by societal shifts like growing wealth inequality, not by the actions of your individual nonprofit. They were worsened by the pandemic, but not caused by it. The data illustrates how important it is for nonprofits to recognize the systemic nature of some of our challenges and advocate for systems changes to strengthen our sector and ensure that our critical work can continue.

This work is critical, and best done together. Join us!

In solidarity,

Data Sources

Independent Sector’s Health of the US Nonprofit Sector Quarterly Review for Q2 2022
“The Generosity Cure,” Chronicle of Philanthropy, July 2022
Fundraising Effectiveness Project’s Quarterly Fundraising Report for Q2 2022

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