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New Research Shows Americans Remain Generous By Derric Bakker

Don’t Panic – Americans Remain Generous!

Americans have seen brighter days.

The very mention of the word, RECESSION, in nonprofit circles is enough to make fundraisers run for the hills. Soaring inflation, a wobbly stock market, and — yes — signs of a recession.

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

Encouraging News

A new research study conducted by DickersonBakker reveals more than 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 2020, for example, our survey predicted a very strong year for charitable giving despite the pandemic. It turned out to be one of the best giving years on record.

There’s widespread pessimism this year about the overall economy. Only 1% of those surveyed say they expect the U.S. economy to grow “a lot” this year. But that doesn’t appear to be dampening people’s enthusiasm to support their favorite charities. Our study shows small donors are likely to keep up their current giving level. And major donors are likely to give slightly more than they did last year.

Local Causes, Churches Score High

While Americans remain positive about supporting overseas aid in places like Ukraine and other international relief and development efforts, “local” is their main focus right now. Almost half say they intend to donate to causes that help vulnerable people in their local community. Their local churches are high on their list of giving priorities.

Lesser priorities — though still important to donors — include military and veterans, education, healthcare, human rights issues, animal welfare, the environment, and the arts.

What does this tell us?

Despite the soaring cost of living, Americans are very much still in a characteristically generous mood.

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

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, rescue missions, and Christian nonprofits to meet growing needs in local communities will only increase.

Americans know it — and they’re ready to respond benevolently.

Be ‘Donor Magnetic’

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 arrives?

Now is not the time to let your foot off the gas. Double down on fundraising. Sharpen your messaging. Make your cause magnetic to donors.

This is the time to reach out to donors with high-need appeals, particularly as many look for year-end tax deductions.

Remember: donor perception of need is the number one force driving their giving. It’s vital to 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 can ride out the storm on a wave of goodwill and generosity.

And that’s encouraging news for us all.


Derric Bakker  is president of DickersonBakker a national nonprofit consultancy firm that helps nonprofits, causes, churches, and Christian schools raise funds. You are welcome to download the full Donor Insight Study Report.

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