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New Guide from the Blackbaud Institute Shows How Philanthropy Fares During Recessions

Informed by Historic Trends, the Guide Illustrates Possible Impacts of Recessions and Seven Steps Social Good Organizations Can Take Now to Build Resiliency 

Charleston, S.C. (September 8, 2022) — The Blackbaud Institute, a research division of Blackbaud (NASDAQ: BLKB), the world’s leading cloud software company powering social good, has released a new guide Philanthropy Through Recession: How Savvy Organizations Weather Uncertain Times. Evaluating data from 11 U.S. recessions, the guide identifies trends and potential implications to help charitable organizations navigate the uncertainty that accompanies occasional economic downturns.

“A review of recessions over the last 40 years shows that philanthropy is quite resilient and can withstand short-term economic fluctuations,” said Ashley Thompson, managing director, Blackbaud Institute. “This guide aims to give social good organizations a better indication of what to expect during a potential recession and insights to help foster resilience.” 

Key Findings from the Study:

  • While the same macroeconomic factors that influence the U.S. economy can also influence the philanthropic sector, giving typically lags behind stock market volatility by about two years, effectively shielding philanthropy against short-term economic fluctuations.
  • The three economic indicators with the strongest relationship to charitable giving are wealth, as represented by the S&P 500 Index, income, as assessed through U.S. gross domestic product, and tax policy. 
  • According to Giving USA, total giving has steadily increased over the last four decades, even when adjusted for inflation. During times of recession, impact is evident, but in the long run, giving continues to rise.
    • Adjusted for inflation, giving increased by over $300 billion between 1979 and 2021. 
    • Total charitable giving has increased or stayed flat in current dollars every year since 1979, except for three years that experienced significant economic declines: 1987, 2008 and 2009.  
  • Donor advised funds (DAFs) are particularly resilient in times of economic shock, as DAFs build assets over time, giving donors a ready stash of cash available to give when conditions require extra support.

The guide offers a wide array of historical research against the backdrop of long-term trends, leveraging data from the annual Giving USA Report. In addition, the guide includes seven steps that organizations can take today to future-proof their operations, tips for nonprofit finance teams and overall trends to watch.

These insights can be accessed in the full Philanthropy Through Recession guide here. All Blackbaud Institute resources are offered for free, as part of Blackbaud’s give-back philosophy. 

About the Blackbaud Institute
The Blackbaud Institute drives research and insight to accelerate the impact of the social good community. It convenes expert partners from across the philanthropic sector to foster diverse perspectives, collective thinking, and collaborative solutions to the world’s greatest challenges. Using the most comprehensive data set in the social good community, the Blackbaud Institute and its partners conduct research, uncover strategic insight and share results broadly to drive effective philanthropy at every stage, from fundraising to outcomes. Knowledge is powering the future of social good, and the Blackbaud Institute is an engine of that progress. Learn more, sign up for our newsletter, explore our knowledge base of social good best practices and trends, see the latest quarterly statistics on giving, and check out our most recent resources at

About Blackbaud
Blackbaud (NASDAQ: BLKB) is the world’s leading cloud software company powering social good. Serving the entire social good community—nonprofits, higher education institutions, K–12 schools, healthcare organizations, faith communities, arts and cultural organizations, foundations, companies and individual change agents—Blackbaud connects and empowers organizations to increase their impact through cloud software, services, expertise and data intelligence. The Blackbaud portfolio is tailored to the unique needs of vertical markets, with solutions for fundraising and CRM, marketing, advocacy, peer-to-peer fundraising, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and environmental, social and governance (ESG), school management, ticketing, grantmaking, financial management, payment processing and analytics. Serving the industry for more than four decades, Blackbaud is a remote-first company headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina, with operations in the United States, Australia, Canada, Costa Rica and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook. 

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