The release of the November 2013 Blackbaud Index data brings some reinforcement to the trends that measure the overall health of the nonprofit fundraising sector. What we’re now seeing is some genuinely solid and stable growth underpinned at last with consistency, which is in complete contrast to 2010-2012 results. With just one report to follow for 2013 it’s almost time to reflect on the year just ended and the grade would be a solid ‘B’ with much less variance than a year ago.
Few things build confidence more than the addition of consistency and while 2013 growth hasn’t quite reached the occasional highs of 2012 nor has it been as erratic and unpredictable. In fact the last six months (incorporating the Blackbaud three-month composite scores) have seen the most steady half-year spell of growth during the lifetime of the reporting. November’s overall giving showed 4.6% growth which was a modest yet healthy upturn from the 4.3% growth shown in October. The Blackbaud Index studies the performance of almost 4,000 US-based nonprofit organizations.
Measuring the performance of the last six months overall provides data that should bring confidence for those in the industry; not confidence that the next 90 days will show incredible growth but confidence that predictable, positive and manageable growth is on the immediate horizon and in a field that relies so heavily on planning and forecasting this can only be good news.
Let’s analyse the overall change in giving trend in six month blocks covering the last two and a half years just to demonstrate this new era of relative stability. In real terms would you rather know that over the next month you might see growth of somewhere between 4 and 6 percent or somewhere between 0 and 10 percent? Equipped with the confidence of the former forecast of those two it’s easy to see how that hugely benefits planning.
Blackbaud data represented is based on a 3 month rolling average of YOY performance
As the graphic above illustrates the most recent six months have by some distance been the most stable over the course of the last two and a half years. The percentage point range of results trimmed all the way down to 1.8 from 5.9 earlier in the year but better still is the median growth associated with that range of 5.05%. The last time the growth was close to being as predictable was back in the first half of 2012 but at that time the median rise in overall giving was a far less encouraging 2.0%. I always feel that finding the median proves to be more useful than just an overall average when forecasting even though there is only a slight difference as it takes into account more data to provide something more concrete.
If this data demonstrates that more erratic movement in fundraising is being erased from the equation that will mean that 2014 should bring steady improvement right around the 4 percent year over year growth mark which would mark the best back to back years seen in a decade. I’m very curious to see what the December report will show but that median figure of 5% and perhaps as high as 6% seem attainable.
Meanwhile the trend toward online giving remains healthy and now accounting for over 12 percent of all fundraising for 2013 to date. There is a gradual trend showing that the growth in online giving is beginning to recede just a little but still lead the industry overall. After the year-end in Blackbaud reporting we’ll take a look at how online giving may perform in 2014. In addition we’ll continue to review the monthly Blackbaud reports as we have in previous months and if you have any questions or thoughts please comment below. _________________________________________________________________________________