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Takeaways from the latest GivingTuesday Data Commons report

October 30, 2021
A group of nonprofit employees gather around a laptop to look at the most recent GivingTuesday trends.

GivingTuesday, the organization behind one of the most significant single-day giving events across the world, provides valuable insights into drivers and trends related to the global generosity movement in its Data Commons reports. The report integrates data from several datasets, including those on growth in fundraising and GivingTuesday awareness.

Notably, the 2021 Lookback Report emphasizes a need to broaden the way nonprofit organizations understand the giving ecosystem. With research showing that more than 76% of acts of generosity are non-monetary and 65% do not involve nonprofits, the GivingTuesday Data Commons plans to conduct more in-depth studies into “informal giving” behavior.

To help your nonprofit glean the most relevant information to your goals and priorities, let’s take a look at some important highlights within this most recent GivingTuesday Data Commons report.

Nonprofit fundraising findings

The GivingTuesday Data Commons Report notes that trends in monetary giving have reverted back to align with pre-2020 trends, with nonprofits continuing to experience increased giving yet a decrease in donors over time.

Interestingly, the report reveals that, while major donors contributed to increased fundraising dollars as typical, new donors from 2020 drove the increase as well. At the same time, donor retention continues to drop and nonprofits continue to struggle with acquiring new support to drive their impact.

While one popular theory for these increased dollars and decreased donors suggests that people may just be losing interest in cause-based giving, the report explicitly disproves this by explaining that nonprofits are not appealing to donors in ways that naturally engage their values and interests. Throughout the report, the GivingTuesday Data Commons emphasizes the need for nonprofits to find more deliberate and impactful ways to appeal to supporters.

Global generosity findings

In 2021, the majority of people across the world (85%) gave in support of a cause, though in-kind giving was twice more common than monetary giving. Some related key statistics mentioned in the Data Commons report include:

  • 67% of Americans donated items to a nonprofit, while 59% gave money and 36% contributed their time.
  • On average, people donated $400 worth of items throughout the year in drop-off collections and item donations to registered charities.
  • The most important causes to people who donated items were related to poverty, mental health, children, and animals.
  • The most important causes to people who donated money were related to human services, health, and foreign affairs.

Overall, the report suggests that nonprofits need to expand their focus beyond purely financial contributions to encourage, reward, and measure gifts of items and time. This ensures that you cultivate a culture of generosity around your organization that brings lasting support to your purpose.

Volunteer engagement findings

Among those who volunteered throughout the year, most invested their time toward causes related to religion, community, and health. To break volunteering trends down even further, some findings to note include:

  • Volunteer signups increased by 7.4% after a 28% decrease in 2020.
  • Most people tend to volunteer during the spring and summer months of the year.
  • More than 75% of volunteers dedicated themselves to two organizations or groups at most.
  • Around 49% of volunteers had pre-planned their involvement, while 45% invested their time spontaneously.

Despite the gradual increase, the report mentions that volunteer signups still remain below pre-pandemic levels. Therefore, to generate more support for your nonprofit moving forward, you’ll need to invest more effort into optimizing your volunteer program and retaining your current volunteers’ support through personalized communications and regular appreciation.

Leveraging GivingTuesday Data Commons insights

While these detailed findings are enlightening, the true value comes in using them to guide improvements to your donor management and fundraising strategies going forward. Drawing from these insights, your nonprofit should consider leveraging these tips to maximize your future results:

  • Establish ways for supporters to contribute to your nonprofit in ways beyond monetary gifts. For instance, consider organizing a donation drive to benefit your cause or opening up more volunteer opportunities in your community.
  • Lean into what personally motivates your donors to give. Use information from your donor profiles and surveys to identify your supporters’ reasons for giving, then appeal to those reasons when you promote your next fundraiser.
  • Put effort into donor acquisition and stewardship. It’s important to invest time and effort into securing new donors while retaining the support you currently have. Along with spreading information about your fundraisers and impact, take the time to regularly thank and update your existing donors to keep them engaged with your cause.
  • Make it easy for supporters to give. The GivingTuesday Data Commons report indicates that monthly recurring donations continue to increase despite a year of low overall donor counts. Therefore, promote recurring gifts to your supporters to open up a reliable revenue stream for your organization.

These recommendations are all centered around the donor experience. The more you understand your nonprofit’s donors, the better you can tailor your communications and activities to engage them. Show your supporters that you care by personalizing your messages to them and referencing their past involvement with your organization.

What you can do to improve your GivingTuesday

A glance at the GivingTuesday Lookback report reveals a high level of diversity when it comes to people’s motivations and preferences for giving. With this in mind, be sure to offer a wide variety of ways for supporters to contribute to your purpose. From donation drives to recurring gifts, provide opportunities that will engage donors of all interests and giving capacities to retain their support year after year.

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