How current events, technology, and seasonality impact donor plans

Classy unveiled its second annual report examining how Americans plan to give to nonprofit organizations from now through the end of the year. The report, titled Why America Gives 2019: How current events, technology, and seasonality impact donor plans, analyzes data from a nationwide survey of Americans. The survey explores if, how, and to whom respondents plan to donate this year in advance of the annual year-end spike in charitable donations. Typically, about 30% of annual giving occurs in the month of December, reinforcing the importance of this time-frame for nonprofits.

For nonprofits participating in Giving Tuesday this year (December 3), one promising survey finding is that 37% of respondents said they were aware of the annual giving observance, up 10% from last year. Of those who plan to participate in Giving Tuesday this year, more than one-third (39%) of respondents plan to donate more than they did last year, half (50%) plan on donating the same as last year, and only 10% say they plan on donating less. While these metrics are positive for America's nonprofits, only 20% of overall respondents plan to donate on Giving Tuesday.

Additional key findings from the report include:

  • Americans' top causes remain consistent year over year: Tragic hurricanes and fires drove people to donate in 2018, and similar weather-related events are motivating respondents in 2019. The top causes that respondents said need support this year are disaster relief (46%), health (37%), and environment and animal issues (37%). This mirrors 2018 survey results. In fact, among consumers who participated in Giving Tuesday 2018, 90% plan on donating to the same causes or nonprofits this upcoming Giving Tuesday.
  • Peer pressure may increase likelihood to give to charity: Two-thirds of consumers (67%) said that their primary motivation for giving is to help a cause they care about. However, being asked to donate in front of others can also influence their action. Approximately one-third of all respondents (34%) said they would be more likely to give to a nonprofit or charity if they were asked to donate in front of other people. Of all the generations, millennials (47%) and Gen Z (42%) said they would be most likely to donate to a nonprofit if asked in front of others.
  • Tech-savvy consumers expect easy-to-use donation options: More than half of Americans (55%) find it easiest to make donations digitally, whether on a computer or smartphone. Unsurprisingly, the younger generations are more likely than their older counterparts to say that they would definitely or likely have less trust in an organization if they can't easily donate online or via mobile devices, with 44% of millennials and 42% of Gen Z agreeing with this statement.
  • Tax code changes are not likely to impact individual charitable giving: Nearly half of Americans (43%) say the amount they received on their April 2019 tax return has no impact on how much they plan to donate this year. However, this may not be entirely altruistic, with only 32% saying they are extremely to very knowledgeable of the impact that the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has had on their annual return.
  • Political views shape giving habits: With the 2020 Presidential Election less than a year away, nearly half of survey respondents (46%) say their political beliefs dictate who or what organizations receive their donations. Respondents affiliated with a political party (52% of Republicans and 51% of Democrats) are also more likely than Independents to say their political beliefs dictate who or what organizations receive their money.

"As we reviewed the survey data while developing our report, we were encouraged to see awareness of Giving Tuesday increase since last year, which is a testament to the great work being done at nonprofit organizations across the country in rallying their supporters," said Scot Chisholm, CEO and Co-Founder of Classy. "Our goal with this report is to help nonprofits better understand their prospective donors heading into the year-end giving season. With recent studies showing that more Americans give to charity than vote, generosity is truly a cornerstone of our country, and the increasing awareness for this important giving event is promising for nonprofits."

In addition to the report, Classy currently has a dedicated resource center to help nonprofits prepare for Giving Tuesday. Last year, nonprofits that leveraged Classy's content resources raised 140% more on average than those that didn't. On Giving Tuesday, Classy will launch the company's third annual real-time giving hub featuring fundraising activity across the Classy platform. Both nonprofits and donors can follow along that day at (this link will not be live until December 3, 2019). Additionally, to continue spreading Giving Tuesday awareness, donors are encouraged to use #idonatedonGT on their social media posts.

Download the full report here.