Liz Fisher is a Senior Schusterman Fellow and the CEO of Amplifier, where she helps live out the organization’s mission of growing a movement of intentional, collaborative giving by building and sustaining giving circles inspired by Jewish values. Here, Liz discusses key trends in individual giving, unpacks the success of GivingTuesday and shares how fundraisers can encourage giving all year-round.
What are some key trends in giving right now?
One trend we are paying attention to here at Amplifier is the decline in individual donors to organizations. According to the Giving USA 2019 report, individual giving has decreased to less than 70% of all philanthropic giving for the first time in 50 years. Additionally, current data points to a world in which fewer middle-class and low-income families—people we might call “everyday donors”— are giving.
While individual giving appears to be on the decline, giving circles continue to gain traction across the United States. The giving circle movement has tripled over the past decade to more than 1,500 circles and, over the past two decades, American giving circles have engaged at least 150,000 people and garnered as much as $1.29 billion in gifts.
What exactly are giving circles?
Giving circles are groups of people who come together to pool their funds and make charitable gifts. By doing so, members of giving circles can build connections, learn about new causes and organizations and make a bigger impact than would be possible through giving alone.
Importantly, hosting giving circles is a strategic way for organizations to garner support. Giving circles provide new and creative ways for organizations to connect with potential donors and constituents, and are an especially good way to engage alumni.
At Amplifier, we are excited to be a leader in a project to scale and grow giving circles over the next five years. Together with our partners in the Community Investment Network, Latino Community Foundation, Asian Women’s Giving Circle, and Catalist, we are putting forward an ambitious plan to accelerate the growth of giving circles. By 2025, we hope to have 3,000 circles with 350,000 members!
Why has Giving Tuesday been so successful?
Since launching in 2012, GivingTuesday has grown from a social media hashtag to an independent organization with 60 international affiliates focused on building a movement of generosity around the world. Last year alone, GivingTuesday campaigns received over 14.2 billion social media impressions and generated nearly $400 million in online donations—mostly from individual donors.
GivingTuesday works because it capitalizes on prime calendar real estate on the United States holiday calendar. Placed just after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, GivingTuesday cleverly reminds people of the gratitude they felt on Thanksgiving before launching into a weekend of consumption and asks them to think about the role of charity in their end of year spending plans.
Another reason for GivingTuesday’s success is that it meets people where they are: online. In 2018, the platform responsible for helping organizations procure the most GivingTuesday gifts was Facebook. Facebook not only provides a method for donors to give, but it is an easy space for people to share specific causes with their friends and networks.
How can fundraising professionals tap into GivingTuesday concepts to encourage giving all year round?
Most fundraising professionals already know these key lessons: meet people where they are, stay on top of what’s emerging in digital platforms and provide fun and creative ways for donors to give—and, importantly, share—the causes they care about. What’s important for fundraising professionals to think about is what GivingTuesday doesn’t always provide, and that’s in-person experiences for people to build connections and community.
Fundraising professionals should think about how to follow-up GivingTuesday with these kinds of experiences, ones like thank-you gatherings, volunteer projects at their organization, or—one of our favorites at Amplifier—pop-up giving circles, which are short, 90-minute interactive giving experiences. Get started with hosting a pop-up giving circle by checking out the resources on our website, or contact us for help putting one together!
Photo Credit: Shulamit Photo + Video.