$390.05 Billion! Just Wait ‘Til Next Year- Sharon Danosky

After a tumultuous 2016, one that included a lot of non-profit angst, there were also a considerable number of giving surges that extended from last year into this one. Planned Parenthood raised $80,000 within three days of the election. ACLU received more than $24 million in online donations over a single week-end.

If nothing else – philanthropy won in 2016. In fact, giving in 2016 was very good and hit a record high with $390.05 billion contributed and 72% coming from individual contributions

What does that mean going forward, though?

In the June 13th issue of Nonprofit Quarterly, Ruth McCambridge explores that question with some interesting observations. The first – even though some headline organizations raised considerable funds, it did not diminish giving to other, less visible organization. Indeed, a rising tide does float all boats.

Next, individual giving increased, and not necessarily all attributable to large contributions, though there were plenty of those to be had. Still, the highest increases were in the environment, health, international affairs and the arts – all areas that many perceived as being ‘under siege’ and where there was a considerable amount of advocacy, with many people visibly rallying around these causes.

And here is where I think the future is particularly bright: activism sparks philanthropy. Concerns that motivate action also motivate giving.

It is as if a sleeping giant has awoken.

The gentle complacency many have felt during the past 8 or so years, even a post-recession malaise, has been brought up short. People are more willing to fight for the values and beliefs they hold dear, especially if those values or beliefs are threatened. Take, Meals on Wheels. Whether or not you know someone who benefits from this program, many of us believe that providing a meal and friendship to someone who is unable to leave their house shines a light on the better side of humanity. So, once there was a possibility of it being caught up in budget cuts – people responded!

What can we take away from some of these findings?

That non-profits are finding their voices. Their angry, just, robust and passionate voices for the people and causes they serve. And with their voices being heard, more people are listening.

We have no idea what the future will bring, but what we do know is that we can play a role in shaping it, and people will follow with both their voices – and their money.