In sailing you are always scanning the horizon looking for the ripples on the water – because that is where the wind is. That is how you set your course.  

    But to get there is rarely a straight line. Sometimes you go sideways to make forward progress and reach your goal.  

    The ripples on the water are the data telling you where to go. In fundraising, we need to look for our own ripples.  

    What data exists for us to plan our next move, appeal, or campaign? Do you need to consider a course correction now to meet that annual goal set in January?

    A recent report from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University projected charitable giving trends in 2021 and 2022 gives us many ripples to consider.


    Ripple #1: Total giving is anticipated to rise 4.1% in 2021 and 5.7% in 2022. 

    To put that into context, in 2018 total giving declined 1.7% followed by a rise of 4.2% in 2019. This study predicts that charitable giving will be back on track in 2021 and moving well beyond pre-pandemic levels in 2022.

    Course Correction: Do not stop telling your better story! Keep sharing your stories of impact, keep building awareness, keep speaking in one clear voice about the need in your community and your response.


    Ripple #2: Giving by foundations is predicted to decline slightly by 1% in 2021 and then grow by 8.8% in 2022.

    Giving by Foundations came on strong in 2020. Many went beyond their usual standard to give larger and unrestricted gifts to nonprofits. The predicted step-back is not a surprise. But the expected jump in 2022 shows great opportunity. 

    Course Correction: Steward, steward, steward! Help these foundations get to know you better. Along with gratitude, share clear, concise data on the outcome and impact of their gift.


    Ripple #3: Giving by American individuals and households is predicted to increase by 6% in 2021 and 3.9% in 2022.

    After multiple years in which the number of donors declined, 2020 was a banner year. More than ever, people connected to the need in their community and reached out to help their neighbor. According to data collected by the Fundraising Effectiveness Project

    • Overall number of donors grew by 7.3% over 2019, led by an 18.5% increase in new supporters and 13.7% increase in “recaptured” donors.

    • Gifts of less than $250 grew by 15.3% over 2019.
    • Gifts of $250 to $999 increased 8%.
    • Gifts of $1,000 or more increased 10.4%. 

    Course Correction: Keep asking – and keep using the new fundraising tools that performed for you in 2020. Do not stop using the tools that worked just because the immediate crisis has passed. Keep connecting with these new and returning donors on the channel that brought them in/back to you.


    Ripple #4: Giving by estates is predicted to increase by 1.1% in 2021 and 11.9% in 2022.

    FreeWill saw a 163% increase in wills made in March 2020 compared to the previous year. This interest in estate planning has hit against the backdrop of a massive demographic and economic shift. 

    Plus, many donors are increasing the size of their planned gifts or opting to fulfill some of their commitments earlier. 63% of organizations in a recent survey saw planned-gift donors raise their gift amounts during the pandemic. For nearly half, donors chose to make some or all their deferred gift now. 

    If there has ever been a time for you to invest in planned giving, this is it.*


    Reading the Ripples

    With the rapid changes in the world that have occurred over the past year, it is more important than ever to keep scanning your horizon and taking the steps to move forward – either as planned or by correcting your course. We saw last year that being able to move quickly and adapt to the changing winds was critical to serving those most in need of our help. Our missions were valued and the potential to grow our charitable gifts is stronger now than it has been. Fair winds to you all!



    * For our YMCA Clients:

    We are launching our Planned Giving Accelerator, a year-long program in which your expert DBD coach will help you develop/expand your endowment & planned giving program by: 

    • Conducting an organizational assessment and planning
    • Defining a volunteer leadership committee structure & staff/volunteer roles
    • Preparing training for staff and volunteer
    • Reviewing and recommending appropriate guiding policies
    • Helping with prospect identification and qualification
    • Supporting marketing strategy with our partner, Crescendo.
    • Preparing you for prospect visits
    • Recommending tools for your donor recognition and stewardship

    Sign up to get notified when the program opens!



    Photo: Francine Sreca from Pixabay

    Posted by Robyn Furness-Fallin
    Robyn Furness-Fallin

    Written by Robyn Furness-Fallin

    Robyn Furness-Fallin, CFRE, offers financial development and volunteer leadership consulting for nonprofits and higher ed. As a Senior Consultant with DBD Group, Robyn is a shrewd strategist who helps bring clarity and focus to the campaigns she supports.

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