The Blackbaud Institute Index – Canada

As 2021 shapes out, social good organizations continue using innovations that emerged from the last year and a half. Warmer months and outdoor activities have arrived, and along with them comes a renewed spirit of optimism. Leaders are embracing this shift, and they are aligning their operations plans and fundraising strategies to allow supporters to express gratitude and, in some cases, engage in face-to-face meetings and events. But they also continue to incorporate methods of engagement in distanced, virtual, and hybrid formats to ensure they are honoring individual hesitation and community-driven needs.

These dynamic approaches—planning ahead for a return to “normal” while leveraging adaptations from the past year—should continue to serve leaders now and in the foreseeable future. To help you understand how the current landscape affects charitable giving, the Blackbaud Institute Index offers quarterly insights, as well as the context you need to leverage the data as a benchmark against your own efforts.

Since its launch in 2014, the Blackbaud Institute Index has grown to include over 300 Canadian organizations and more than $750 million in giving. The Index is updated each quarter and reports year-over-year percent changes and giving to date for the last 12 months. For even more in-depth insights on how current and long-term trends can help you on the path ahead, read the 2020 Charitable Giving Report published in February 2021, where you will find further unique data, information on how to benchmark yourself, and insights for many subsectors.

Giving trend data is an invaluable tool, but it is only a retrospective that shows us what has already happened. Remember that charitable giving data is one facet of the philanthropic prism. Always track trends across your entire revenue portfolio and target a sustainable funding mix in your long-term plans.

Quarterly Overall Charitable Giving

  • Q2 2021 vs. Q2 202013.8%
  • Last 12-Months6.4%*

A look at year-over-year changes shows overall charitable giving in Canada increased 6.4% over the last 12 months. Additionally, online fundraising in Canada experienced a 23.7% increase in the past 12 months ending in June 2021 compared to the previous 12 months ending June 2020.

*Last 12 months ending in June 2021 compared to the previous 12 months ending in June 2020

Navigating the Current Landscape

  • Remember that donor retention remains one of the most critical factors in fundraising success. Donors give because they believe in the organization’s mission and believe their gift can make a difference. Stay focused on communicating the continued value of your mission and stewarding your supporters. By this same token, supporters want to know how the organizations they care about are faring. Don’t be afraid to be transparent with donors about challenges the organization is facing. Earnest communication about challenges allows donors to engage and rise to meet the need.
  • Consider how your organization has adapted to maximize digital engagement with supporters. As social distancing measures were enacted, organizations across all sectors were forced out of their comfort zones with digital marketing and engagement. Continue to embrace social media and digital platforms to connect with supporters. Staff should consider how they might continue delivering and expanding their newfound success across virtual programming and events through such online platforms as Facebook Live. It is an opportunity to consider how you can continue to engage constituents across a myriad of channels.
  • Stay connected across teams so you can respond with agility. While you may still be working remotely, it has never been more critical for all teams across your organization to stay in sync. Your capacity for embracing innovative solutions to new challenges will rely on your team’s ability to stay connected. Now is the time for leaders to focus on transparency and communication. If it isn’t already part of your regular cadence, consider incorporating emails or video updates from leaders to keep staff engaged and on the same page. Continue to focus on solid data management practices so that all teams can access the information they need.

A Message from Allan Hoffmann

Blackbaud President and General Manager of Blackbaud Canadaallan-hoffmann

“The Blackbaud Institute Index is an excellent tool enabling Canadian organizations to gauge the overall direction of giving across the country on a quarterly basis. I am thrilled the Blackbaud Institute continues to be a resource that organizations can use to understand trends, benchmark their efforts, inform their strategic planning, and ultimately make better decisions.”

How we create the Index

Each quarter, we draw actual giving statistics from the databases of over 300 Canadian charities using various fundraising systems to determine how much revenue was raised. We include giving from all sources of fundraising activities: direct mail, telemarketing, face-to-face fundraising, email, online, mobile giving, small- and large-scale events, and major and deferred giving.

We do not include the unfulfilled portion of pledge gifts, but we do include the donated value of in-kind and stock gifts. We include giving from individuals, corporations, and foundations but do not include giving by individuals or corporations to private and community foundations or other intermediaries. To include these gifts would double count the revenue when those organizations subsequently make grants to other charities. We do not currently exclude the advantage amount, or the value of goods and services provided in exchange for donations or event participation (for example: a campaign where donors who give more than $100 receives a coffee mug or the difference between the cost of a meal provided at a signature event and the cost of sponsorship or ticket). And lastly, we do include adjustments made to gifts (e.g., bounced checks and refunds) to provide a more accurate accounting of real revenues. As a result, you may find that indices values change slightly as we obtain newly adjusted data from each organization.

We report the Index as a three-month moving median of year-over-year percent changes in giving. We add up all giving for the prior three months and compare this total to the same three months one year earlier to calculate the annual percent change for each organization in our Index.

“Economic conditions, natural disasters, and market fluctuations have made it extremely difficult for non-profits to make fundraising decisions informed by the latest donor behaviour. That is why we created the Blackbaud Institute Index — to provide insight into what happened in the prior quarter and valuable analysis by leaders in the sector into what fundraisers can learn from it.”
— Chuck Longfield, Founder of Blackbaud Institute Index and Blackbaud Institute Advisory Board Member

Many organizations have big campaigns (events or mailings) that occur at roughly the same time each year. However, if an event was in late May one year but June the next, the change in monthly giving might be significant while the change in giving over a three-month period might be the same. An index based on a moving median is less sensitive to these small timing issues and will serve as a more practical decision-making tool. However, one downside of a moving median is that it can dampen large fluctuations caused, for example, by disaster relief giving.

For more information

Questions: Contact us at info@blackbaudinstitute.com.
Press: For press and media inquiries, contact: Elizabeth.Price@blackbaud.ca.
For more on these trends and additional insights, check out the Blackbaud Institute's annual Charitable Giving Report.

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Benchmarking: The Insight Track to Success

Listen to your data to transform your organization’s strategy. The Blackbaud Institute Index and Charitable Giving Report keep you aware of the trends, and now this guide offers practical strategies for using these resources to introduce benchmarking across your organization. Click below to download the free guide, no email required!

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