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From Scarcity to Abundance: Mapping the Giving Ecosystem

11 Jul 2022 by GivingTuesday

A Lookback at 2021 Trends in Global Giving

GivingTuesday’s Data Commons is excited to release its 2021 Lookback report on trends in global giving, titled: From Scarcity to Abundance: Mapping the Giving Ecosystem.

In this new report,we not only draw on a broad range of data sources to provide a unique window on the state of giving in 2021, but – equally importantly – we lay the foundation for a rethinking of how the social sector understands – and cultivates – generosity.

Our approach looks beyond standard giving metrics that focus primarily on tracking financial donations to registered nonprofits, which exclude most giving and givers. Instead we have begun mapping the giving ecosystem in its true abundance, by establishing benchmarks based on the measurement of many more kinds of giving (including time, items and social advocacy in addition to money) and in many more contexts (including, giving to community groups and non-family individuals in addition to nonprofits), revealing a complex and nearly universal culture of giving.

Key takeaways include:

  • Generosity is abundant and diverse – 85% of people surveyed globally gave in 2021; non-monetary giving was 2x more common than monetary giving. Globally, only 5% of people who gave, gave money only. 
  • Giving happened broadly across all recipient groups – In the USA, giving to non-registered entities was over 2x more common than giving to registered entities; with most people giving to multiple types of recipients. Only 2.5% of people who gave, only gave money to nonprofits. 
  • Volunteering for nonprofits has followed its own unique two-year trend vs giving of money – increasing 7.4% in 2021 after a severe drop in 2020 yet remaining far below pre-COVID-19 levels in the USA.

We need a robust and relevant data environment that captures all of the giving happening around us, just as we need outreach activities that reflect and leverage the true richness, diversity and strength of our giving ecosystem. Only by measuring the full range of giving behaviors taking place around us can we maximize the full range and power of generosity and engage support for organizations and causes.

This report represents the beginning of an ambitious new initiative designed to meet those needs. We invite all generosity practitioners, as well as all who share our ambition of promoting generosity, to explore its contents.

We are confident that our approach will increase giver agency and engagement, enable a deeper understanding of the nature of giving, improve fundraising results and – ultimately – increase beneficial social impacts.

Access the report

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