News and analysis
June 18, 2015

Giving Tuesday Growth Slows Sharply for Large Nonprofits, Study Says

Large organizations continue to benefit most from Giving Tuesday, according to an analysis of online donations conducted by Blackbaud, although the rate of growth in dollars raised by those organizations fell sharply in 2014.

Giving Tuesday donations to groups with more than $10 million in annual fundraising climbed 5 percent from 2013 to 2014. From 2012 to 2013, contributions increased 60 percent.

Some may view the slowdown in growth as a sign that things have peaked, Steven MacLaughlin, director of analytics at Blackbaud, wrote in the report.

"Having spent over a decade looking at online giving data, I can tell you that it’s still a very volatile channel," he said. "There are going to be more twists and turns in the data, especially when looking at a very specific 24-hour period."

The largest organizations took in 74 percent of online donations on Giving Tuesday 2014, down from 84 percent the year before. Medium-size groups, with annual fundraising from $1 million to $10 million, captured 21 percent of Giving Tuesday gifts, up from 13 percent one year prior. Groups with less than $1 million in annual fundraising received 5 percent of donations, a 2 percentage-point increase from 2013.

"What’s interesting is that even though the growth rate for large nonprofits declined a lot, the increase in giving to small and medium-size nonprofits still resulted in overall year-over-year growth, Mr. MacLaughlin said in an email to The Chronicle.

The most recent Giving Tuesday, which took place on December 2, 2014, generated $46 million in donations, according to estimates compiled by Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and five gift-processing platforms — Blackbaud, DonorPerfect, GlobalGiving, Network for Good, and Razoo. It was more than twice what the inaugural event raised in 2012.

The Blackbaud study, released Wednesday, included 4,396 nonprofits that took in collectively $55.6 million in Giving Tuesday donations in 2012, 2013, and 2014. To be included, nonprofits had to have received at least one Giving Tuesday gift. The study does not include donations made on other online gift-processing platforms or offline giving.

Giving Tuesday was started in 2012 by officials at the 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation in New York City. The idea was to capture some of the energy, and spending, unleashed with the kickoff to the holiday shopping season in the days following Thanksgiving.

Blackbaud released the report on the same day the 92nd Street Y hosted a "Best Practices Summit" featuring speakers from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Case Foundation, and other prominent organizations. This year’s Giving Tuesday event will take place on December 1.

In 2014, 17 percent of donations were made through a mobile device.

Faith-based organizations received the largest share of Giving Tuesday donations at 21 percent, down from 40 percent one year earlier. They were followed by higher education with 17 percent and health care and medical research, which each took 13 percent.

"Both higher education and health care have been laggards in online giving for the past 15 years," Mr. MacLaughlin said. "This is rooted in a fundraising culture traditionally focused on high-touch practices and major-gift fundraising."

Send an e-mail to Megan O’Neil.