Research & Reports

Donations to Nonprofits Increased by Four Percent in 2017

The 2017 Fundraising Effectiveness Quarterly Report Also Reveals a Stunning 47% Donation Increase in the 4th Quarter that Reverses Previous Headwinds to Giving in 2017.

(New Orleans, La.) According to the recent 2018 Fundraising Effectiveness Quarterly Report, covering the fourth quarter 2017, overall donations to nonprofits in the US increased 4% in 2017 over 2016. This reverses a year-long decline of -4% through the end of the third quarter of 2017, with substantial increases in giving at all donation levels to end the year.

In the report, giving from donors giving $1,000 or more in the fourth quarter of 2017 also increased a record breaking 47% over the previous fourth quarter in 2016. While there is a correlation between the increase and the recent tax changes and run up of the stock market in the same time period, more research will be necessary to understand exactly why giving increased so suddenly near the end of the year.

Annual donor retention also increased to 46%, which means that nearly half of all donors who gave in 2016 also gave in 2017 to the same nonprofit organization. This figure is an improvement from the annual donor retention rate of 41% reported in 2009.

This quarterly report encompasses 9,179 nonprofit organizations across the US with 7.7 million donors and more than $7.6 billion dollars in contributions. Representing a diverse and representational sample of the overall $390 billion in giving in the United States, the Growth in Giving database is the world’s largest database of actual nonprofit donation history available for public and private research.

Elizabeth Boris, chair of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project and founding director of the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute, said, “We’re thrilled to release the results so that nonprofits have better metrics. The increase in major donors near the end of the year was impressive, as that group was missing in action through the first three quarters of 2017.”

Another highlight of the report was the continuing increase in retaining new, first-time donors. In just five years, nonprofits have improved this metric by more than 25%, which helps these organizations become more sustainable in the long run.

Boris concluded, “The expansion of the Growth in Giving database allows for groundbreaking research that was never before possible. As more software vendors and their clients join, nonprofits will benefit from the raw power of big data to help them be more successful.”

To download the Fundraising Effectiveness Quarterly Report, and learn about other tools to help measure fundraising effectiveness, please visit

About the Fundraising Effectiveness Project

The Fundraising Effectiveness Project was created in 2006 and includes the collaboration of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and the Urban Institute. The Growth in Giving database, with more than 125 million donation transactions, is continuously updated by leading fundraising software thought leaders (in alphabetical order) Bloomerang, DonorPerfect, and NeonCRM. New partners include Blackbaud, Kindful, SalsaLabs, SalesForce, and Softrek. Additional partners include the 7th Day Adventists, the YMCA of the USA, DonorTrends, and DataLake. For more information and how to have your fundraising software provider participate, please visit

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