Drakes Bay Fundraising
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Archive for the ‘Demographics’ Category

Women Gain in Donor Value

Posted by Christopher Dann
Tuesday December 10, 2013
Categories: Demographics, Fundraising, Research, Trends

Compensation equity between men and women is as complex a topic as it is heated.

We’re not going to either wade into its complexity or approach its heat. But both aspects of the topic have been largely responsible, we assume, for the Bureau of Labor Statistics attention to it. And we have now a new report, Highlights of Women’s Earnings in 2012, with data useful to our understanding of another complex topic, the donor marketplace.

The bad news in the report, as the always reliable American Consumers Newsletter points out, is that “the decades-long increase in the earnings of women who work full-time came to an end…[and] Women are joining men in the struggle to stay even.”

But there is a lot of good news, at least for fundraising, in seeing what came of those decades of progress that brought women’s earnings as a percent of men’s, full-time wage and salary workers from approximately 62% in 1979 to 82% in 2012. Two graphs from the report illustrate.


% Change in constant-dollar median usual weekly earnings by
educational attainment and sex, 1979-2011

The table shows that women have made more earnings progress through education. And we know, coincidentally, that more women than men have been enrolled in and graduating from colleges and graduate schools in recent times. With education attainment second only to age as a determining factor in giving, we have here documentation of one perspective on the increased capacity of the donor market.

With very little exception, the donor base research we have conducted for a wide variety of nonprofit organizations over the past 20+ years have shown female majorities in the donor bases or as giving decision makers.


Distribution of full-time wage and salary employment, by sex and major
occupation group, 2011 annual averages

Of the occupational groups on this graph, bachelor’s degrees are required mostly among management, business, and financial occupations, professional and related occupations, and office and administrative occupations. These three categories accounted for 68.4% of women’s full-time wage and salary employment in 2011 (versus 41.2% of men).

Again, the good news is that the capacity for giving among women has increased very substantially, even if it is now in stasis. This doesn’t tell us either whether the disposition of women to give has changed or whether the nonprofit sector has done what it should to affect greater disposition among women to give.

It certainly doesn’t tell us where any given organization stands relative to the opportunity to benefit from this greater capacity.  That takes research.

Insights into a large class of elite donors

Posted by Christopher Dann
Monday June 24, 2013
Categories: Demographics, Fundraising, Research, Statistics, Uncategorized

…are the major contributions to our understanding of giving found in the Fidelity Charitable Giving Report, 2013 edition recently published through Fidelity’s website.

Fidelity sampled their 94,000 donors connected to nearly 58,000 giving accounts to produce multiple perspectives on who these donors are and how they give.

Their profile underscores a point we have had occasion to make repeatedly, that the prime time age range of giving begins at 55 when household discretionary income tends to have its growth spurt. While the average age of the Fidelity Charitable donor is 62, the average age at which funds are established is 54.

In all the age profile looks very much like that of most donor files we have researched:


While the age profile of Fidelity donors varies little or not at all from that of the general donor population, patterns of their giving do vary.  In contrast to the approximate $3,500 the average itemizing tax filing household gives, the Fidelity donor’s average grant was $3,773 in 2012 and they gave an average 7.1 grants.

Here are the variances from norm of the distributions of Fidelity donor grants:


*note, giving in response to Sandy increased Human Services sub-sector giving an estimated 1% in 2012

Donor-advised funds such as Fidelity Charitable have become an important sub-sector on their own. While overall individual giving, adjusted for inflation, dropped 11.3% from 2007 to 2012 (despite Sandy), gifts to donor-advised fund accounts grew 17%. While the former is clearly an effect of what’s happened to the economy, the latter seems to be because of economic uncertainly. Donor-advised funds have become a means of a new form of planned giving.

Disruptive Demography in Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago…

Posted by Christopher Dann
Thursday December 13, 2012
Categories: Demographics, Fundraising, Trends

…Cleveland, Denver, Houston, New York, Philadelphia, Phoenix.

Anyone involved in raising money nationally or in any of these cities – or cities like any of them – should read and add to one’s library Alan Ehrenhalt’s The Great Inversion and the Future of the American City¹.

In his prologue, Ehrenhalt writes, “The truth is we are living at a moment in which the massive outward migration of the affluent that characterized the second half of the twentieth century is coming to an end. And we need to adjust our perceptions of cities, suburbs, and urban mobility as a result.”

With Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam helped us understand the connection between a community’s social capital and its philanthropic capacity. Alan Ehrenhalt gives us an entirely different perspective on why metropolitan areas present themselves so differently as markets for fundraising, and how they are changing.

With so many challenges close at hand, you need not be concerned (although you might be) with the future of the American City to find immediate value in The Great Inversion.

For one thing, there’s great value in knowing the demographic phenomena affecting the trends Ehrenhalt writes about. He posits that the great inversion is being prompted, for example, by a 50% increase that will occur over the coming two decades in the proportion of the population over 65 (good news for nonprofits); that while homeownership exceeded 69% in 2004 it is heading southward (not so good news); and that we are headed rapidly toward having more single-member households than households with children (news of mixed value).

While giving tends to develop during years in which people have maximum discretionary income, it tends to mature in the years that follow retirement (generally, after 65).

Homeownership has tended to correlate with community social capital stake-holding. While giving up homeownership might not make a difference among donors already committed to a community’s nonprofit organizations, the decline seems most likely to be affected by people choosing never to buy homes nor to become vested in the quality of a community’s life.

Similarly, children tend to anchor families to communities and incline parents toward communities of better social capital, while households with adult couples have consistently proved better donor households than those with single adults.

Ehrenhalt describes the precedence set by trends well underway in Chicago and New York; what’s gone right in near-suburban Washington and wrong in near-suburban Cleveland; what’s being attempted and succeeding in Denver and Charlotte, the false starts that have occurred in Houston and Phoenix, and why Philadelphia presents an “uneasy coexistence.”

While The Great Inversion helps fundraisers — indeed, nonprofit managers — set their plans and aspirations in the cities explored in the book and cities like them, it also offers valuable caution to national organizations bent on scaling their fundraising investments by treating everyone in every place everywhere the same. As much as the template designs of nationwide retail emporia have made some parts of every metropolitan area look exactly alike, there still are distinctions that attract people to settle in, join, and contribute to one city over another.  There’s the interstate highway, commercial visage of metropolitan America, which gives us all the impression of going nowhere very fast, and then there is the human visage. And there’s no doubt which one we should have.


¹2012, Borzoi Books (Alfred A. Knopf), New York

Next Generation Fundraising and Drakes Bay Fundraising merged in the fall of 2013, bringing the longstanding professional acquaintances of their four principals – Tim Oleary, Carol Leister, Cindy Germain, and Christopher Dann – into a single company and combining the special resources and experiences of each to provide clients greater breadth and depth of service.

For more information about Next Generation Fundraising, click here.