DickersonBakker Blog

Don’t Panic! New Research Shows Donors Still in Generous Mood


The very mention of the word in nonprofit circles is sometimes enough to make fundraisers reach for the panic button.

Soaring inflation, a wobbly stock market, and — yes — flashing signs of a recession.

America has seen brighter days.

But now is not the time to panic. I’m happy to say there’s a silver lining.

Our newest research study report reveals more that 84% of donors expect their charitable giving to stay the same or increase this year. Download the full report here.

If you’re a little skeptical about such forecasts, let me reassure you. Our nonprofit consultancy firm has been conducting donor insight studies for years, and they’ve proven remarkably accurate in predicting charitable giving patterns.

In 2020, for example, our survey predicted a very strong year for charitable giving despite a massive economic downturn caused by widespread COVID lockdowns. It turned out to be one the best giving years on record, with Americans donating a total of $484 billion to causes they care about.

It’s clearly evident there’s widespread pessimism this year about the overall economy. But that doesn’t appear to be dampening people’s enthusiasm to support their favorite charities.

While nearly nine out of 10 Americans believe we will dip into recession this year, and three out of four have seen their investments decline, the vast majority say it won’t affect their charitable giving.

Our study shows small donors are likely to keep up their current giving level. And big donors are likely to give slightly more than they did last year.

Churches, Local Causes Most Popular

Among those in our national online survey of 2,358 donors, nearly eight out of 10 identify their local church or place of worship as a top-giving priority.

And almost half say they intend to donate to causes that help vulnerable people in their local community.

What does this tell us?

Despite the squeeze on household budgets, Americans are very much still in a characteristically generous frame of mind.

They’re driven by the pressing needs they see around them — needs they see increasing, especially close to home.

Americans Ready to Give

As Americans, helping our neighbors — as well as those further afield — in hard times is very important to us.

And as higher energy bills and other rising costs affect the most vulnerable in the coming months, the pressure on local food banks and other community services will only increase.

America’s donors know it — and they’re ready to respond benevolently.

What can nonprofits do right now to make sure they’re in the best possible position to benefit from people’s desire to help, especially as the holiday season approaches?

Now is not the time to let your foot off the gas. Instead, double down on fundraising, sharpen your messaging, and make your cause magnetic to donors.

It’s vital to clearly communicate the urgency and show donors how they can be heroes.

Those nonprofits that don’t engage and connect with their donors now will miss out.

Yes, the times are tough – and could get even tougher. But the indicators are that America’s nonprofits, charities, and churches can ride out the storm on a wave of goodwill and generosity.

And that’s encouraging news for everyone.

To download the Donor Insight Study Report, go to DickersonBakker.com/2022GivingStudy or click here.

— Derric Bakker is president of DickersonBakker, a national nonprofit consultancy firm that helps charities, causes, churches, and schools raise funds.

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