The Blackbaud Institute Index – UK


As 2020 continues to unfold with rapidly evolving challenges and change, the social good community finds itself navigating an unprecedented landscape. The global COVID-19 pandemic has forced organisations to grapple with seismic shifts to their operations from canceling major fundraising events to working remotely to altering service delivery in adherence to government guidelines while meeting constituent needs. Leaders find themselves needing to respond to an overwhelming amount of unexpected change all at once.

In these trying times, the way your organisation adapts to challenges will determine both your current and long-term organisational health. The effects of this year’s many changes will continue to play out for some time. Strong leaders focus on resilience, ensuring the organisation can weather the storm while still being positioned for future growth. The Blackbaud Institute Index offers data trends to help you understand the current situation. We have expanded our reporting to provide a deeper perspective you need to leverage this data proactively.

Tracking more than £310 million from approximately 290 organisations in U.K.-based charitable giving, the Blackbaud Institute Index is updated each quarter and reports year-over-year percent changes and giving to date for the last 12 months.

Giving trend data is an invaluable tool, but it is only a retrospective that shows us what has already happened. Your leadership and long-term strategy are still the most significant factors in your performance. And remember that charitable giving data is one facet of the philanthropic prism. Always track trends across your full revenue portfolio and target a sustainable funding mix in your long-term plans.

Quarterly Overall Charitable Giving

  • Q3 2020 vs Q3 2019-15.8%
  • Last 12-Months-7.3%*

*Last 12 months ending in September 2020 compared to the previous 12 months ending in September 2019

Navigating the Current Landscape

Consider how your organisation is adapting to maximise digital engagement with supporters. With many in-person gatherings cancelled or on hold, organisations across all sectors are being forced out of their comfort zones with digital marketing and engagement. You should embrace this opportunity to maximise their use of social media and digital platforms to stay connected with supporters. If the organisation’s doors are shut to the public or services are limited, for the time being, staff should consider how they might be able to deliver some of the same programming through Facebook Live or other online platforms. Donors are more understanding than ever before that many are new to these platforms. It is an opportunity to loosen the reins and welcome people in however you can.

And remember that donor retention remains one of the most essential factors in fundraising success. Donors give because they believe in the organisation’s mission and believe their gift can make a difference. You should stay focused on communicating the continued value of their mission. By this same token, you shouldn’t be afraid to be transparent with donors about challenges the organisation may potentially face due to coronavirus. Supporters want to know how the causes they care about are faring. Earnest communication about the challenges you will face allows donors to engage and give the support that is needed.

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“Economic conditions, natural disasters, and market fluctuations have made it extremely difficult for non-profits to make fundraising decisions informed by the latest donor behavior. 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

How we create the Index

Each quarter, we draw actual giving statistics from the databases of around 290 U.K.-based participating organisations 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 organisations subsequently make grants to other nonprofits. We do not currently exclude the value of goods and services provided in exchange for gifts (e.g., the cost of premiums) but hope to in the future. 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 organisation.

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 organisation in our Index.

Why do this?

Many organisations have big campaigns (events or mailings) that occur at roughly the same time each year. However, if an event was in late April one year but early May 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

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For more UK insight: The Status of UK Fundraising 2020

For more on these trends and additional insights, check out the Blackbaud Institute annual Charitable Giving Report.

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Benchmarking: The Insight Track to Success

Listen to your data to transform your organisation’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 organisation. Click below to download the free guide, no email required!

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