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4 Key Insights From The 2016 Philanthropy Outlook

Thanks to the generosity of the folks at Marts & Lundy and the research expertise of the team at the IU Lilly School of Philanthropy we again have predictions regarding philanthropy results in the most recent year 2015 and more importantly the coming year 2016!

The full report titled The Philanthropy Outlook: 2015 & 2016 can be found here.

Please read the full report for all of the wonderful insights and just as vital the background research supporting the findings.

The report reveals much in the way of good news for those of us deeply involved in philanthropy. Let’s dig in and see what are some of the top insights.

1. Philanthropy is Going to Rise Over This Two Year Period

The prediction is for an increase in Total Giving of 4.8% in 2015 and 4.9% in 2016 is more than welcome news for everyone!

This will bold well for fundraisers by providing the proper spirit for their in-house teams, volunteers and board members. A sense of a rising tide lifting all efforts in this arena is hard to replace.   We should all rejoice since the outlook has not been nearly as uplifting in certain years gone by.

The underlying economic factors are spelled out in the full report. The single biggest possible negating factor that we have seen happening a bit since the report was released is the slowdown of the overall world economy. This seems be focused a large part on China and Europe. Let’s hope we see that improve throughout the balance of 2016!

2. Individual Giving is Nearly 80% of the Total

Much like the popular Giving USA Report, also compiled by the same research team, the overwhelming majority of funds come from Individuals/Households and their respective Estates. The chart below illustrates this beautifully (click to enlarge):


Hopefully, such metrics will allow nonprofit fundraising teams to know where to focus their efforts in regards to time spent in these four areas:

  1. Individuals and households
  2. Foundations
  3. Corporations
  4. Legacy giving

Each area needs attention, but now the time and cost allocation for those efforts can be based upon what the actual results will most likely be. This can be a wonderful asset to utilize.

3. The Two Biggest Underlying Factors are S & P Growth and Personal Income Change

The report covers quite a bit of details of the various factors influencing each subset of the data. The two overall biggest factors that will significantly influence total giving in 2015 and 2016 truly stood out and made sense. They are:

  • Above-average projected growth in the S&P 500 in preceding years
  • Average to above-average projected increases income and household and nonprofit net worth

By keeping a watchful eye on these two factors as 2016 unfolds, we can further refine the accuracy of the predictions. This should be a small factor in adjusting your fundraising plans.

4. Technology as it Applies to Fundraising Will Influence Your Success

In the area of the report regarding implications on page 16, the following excerpt shouted out as to a possible place to invest in your future fundraising success:

In the years to come, Americans’ ever-present philanthropic
spirit will continue to be harnessed through the use of
newer technologies and engagement techniques in
support of both traditional causes and innovative initiatives
designed to tackle the most pressing challenges of our
time. Be sure to keep abreast of current technologies useful
for engaging donors, as well as future developments in
technology—especially those relating to communication
and donation processing—to maintain relevance and connection with donors.

Obviously, utilizing such tools and especially those critical to relationship building can help determine whether your charity is able to garner the appropriate percentage of the 2015 and 2016 increases in charitable giving.

The four key insights above are my favorites. What other ones seemed vital to you?

Best of luck in increasing your organization’s fundraising results by an equal or greater percentage in the coming year!


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