08 February 2019

AFP Survey Finds Fewer Donors are Giving to Charity

The NonProfit Times reported this week on a poll conducted by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), which asked its members to respond to a number of questions about their 2018 fundraising. The survey asked respondents to compare this year’s fundraising to previous years, influential factors in their fundraising campaigns, the impact of the economy on fundraising, and the effect of the new tax law on fundraising, among other questions. We recommend you read the entire story to see some of the findings of the poll. However, there is one particular finding that we want to highlight.

Many respondents reported fewer donors in 2018, but those who gave typically gave more, according to AFP. Several remarked on seeing fewer gifts and much less donor activity in the fourth quarter of the year as compared with previous years. “We received distinctly fewer gifts in December compared to normal,” one respondent told AFP. “This may be the combined effect of the tax changes and the stock market/economic news in December. The growth we achieved was mainly due to our launch of a new initiative.”

There are two key points in this finding: first, that respondents reported fewer donors. This continues a decade-long trend that we have highlighted on several occasions. Second, that there were fewer gifts in the fourth quarter, the key giving season of the year.

These are only two data points in a sea of data that will take years to develop. However, they are known points of concern because they indicate that the decline in the number of Americans giving to charity is not only continuing, it could even be accelerating. This means charities are becoming more reliant on fewer givers, and those givers tend to be wealthier.

The broad-based nature of American charity is indeed in jeopardy, and there appears to be no signs of a change in course in the immediate future.