The Generosity Crisis is Real, but DonorSearch Helps Clients Overcome It Daily

Now that we are two months into the new year, nonprofits around the nation are humming along at full speed, even if those in the Midwest are still thawing out from January’s frigid temperatures. Despite the emphasis on starting a new year strong, much of the non-profit economy’s attention remains focused in another direction—the generosity crisis, and how to overcome it.

 The generosity crisis is certainly taking up significant mindshare among nonprofit thought leaders. Specifically, it has been identified as a 2024 trend by Chronicle of Philanthropy Senior Editor for Fundraising Rasheeda Childress in a recent piece titled, “Has the Giving Crisis Reached the Point of No Return?”

Although the article makes many interesting points about the nature of America’s crisis with giving, our response is a message of positivity. Thankfully, no, the giving crisis has absolutely not reached the tipping point. More, DonorSearch clients experience this fact firsthand on a daily basis as they make new connections and build deep relationships with those donors that will support their good works well into the future.

Returning to Childress, she notes the current focus on the generosity crisis comes after a steady stream of gloomy news about philanthropy in the United States, culminating in the Giving USA report for 2022 showing how giving from individual donors hit a 40-year low. Childress quotes DonorSearch Senior Vice President Nathan Chappell, co-author of the book The Generosity Crisis, the definitive work on America’s dearth of giving, who explains: “Right now, our numbers show that philanthropy could end up in the single digits in 49 years. That’s the horror. Any downward trajectory ends at zero somewhere.”

Yet despite this warning, Chappell remains optimistic about philanthropy’s future. This may surprise some nonprofit leaders. Our response is that Chappell’s optimism is based on the second half of his book.

As Chappell explains, “When I set out to write The Generosity Crisis with co-authors Brian Crimmins and Michael Ashley, we weren’t just focused on the very real problem of widespread giving. We also wanted to address the solution to what we viewed as a worsening challenge in our society. Our primary finding is that deep engagement—which we call Radical Connection—is the antidote to cure the generosity crisis. We wished to show that deep engagement exists all around nonprofits if they are equipped with the tools to recognize it. Empowering nonprofits to locate and build Radical Connection is what we do every day at DonorSearch.”

Zooming out again, Childress explains nonprofits are indeed harnessing several strategies at the same time to combat the giving crisis, writing:

Organizations are working to build out their base of everyday donors with the goal of ensuring a continuous pipeline. To do that, fundraisers are working hard to build personal relationships to hold on to existing supporters, take advantage of donors’ own networks to attract new support, and rethink how to measure fundraising success.

 These are the exact strategies empowered by DonorSearch and its powerful AI tools. Leveraging critical data enables our clients to better understand what members of their community they should focus on to strengthen relationships. These can often result in new traditions of giving. In fact, many (if not most) of our clients experience great surprise at their first run of DonorSearch AI data because deeply engaged community members are identified that have never been on their radar.

This reality even holds true for brand new organizations that don’t possess historical data to reference, such as The Farmlink Project, a nonprofit highlighted by Childress in her article that Chappell has personally assisted and employed as a case study in The Generosity Crisis.

 Ultimately, the message of the Chronicle of Philanthropy article is clear—the legacy approach of relying on wealth screening to identify those members of the community who will fund your organization’s good works is worse than obsolete in 2024. It borders on counterproductive. Instead, it requires a far more holistic view of a nonprofit’s community, including engagement levels and non-traditional giving through platforms like GoFundMe, to drive smart decisions and successful fundraising these days.

This is where DonorSearch comes in.

 As Executive Vice President and Co-Owner Sarah TeDesco explains, “The giving crisis isn’t merely a matter of economics. It’s a formidable challenge of nonprofits and their communities drifting apart for a wide variety of reasons. Our goal at DonorSearch is to assist each client with closing this gap, thereby building resilient cultures of giving throughout the country. Together with nonprofits of all types, we’re succeeding in establishing—and re-establishing— a lasting base of philanthropy, and we invite you to join us.”

 To learn how we can help your organization overcome any of your own fundraising challenges, please contact DonorSearch for a demo today. And if you are an experienced non-profit professional interested in helping new nonprofits build for future success daily, consider a career with DonorSearch.

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