Charitable giving up in early 2014

Benefactors were feeling slightly more generous during the change of seasons, according to recent statistics. 

Blackbaud's latest giving index found that nonprofits were able to accept online donations more than prior months, as Web giving grew nearly 8 percent year-over-year in April. Overall giving grew modestly in the same time period at 1.3 percent. The news comes on the coattails of different industry projections noting that the nonprofit sector was in fact in a state of decline. 

The 3,200 charities surveyed raised $1.8 million in online donations over the past year. 

Positive sign for nonprofits going forward
Industry executives began to worry slightly after a three month trend of declines in giving emerged after the new year. Overall charitable gifts decreased 0.7 percent between January and March; however, newly released April figures found that donations were out of the red once again. 

There are a number of reasons for the positive upswing, according to Blackbaud's Idea Lab director Steve McLaughlin. Besides the warmer weather, the index added organizations to the study group. Because the analysis only looks at nonprofits that have 24 months of data, there is a bit of a lag when it comes to compiling donation statistics.

The increase of international affairs was also particularly pleasing, as these organizations saw a 5.1 percent year-over-year increase in donations in April. The figure was especially promising given that these organizations saw a 10 percent increase between 2012 and 2013 due to multiple natural disasters.

"I would view that as a positive sign, because we're back to a normal level of giving to those organizations and they still increased over a strong previous year," McLaughlin said. 

Study places importance on higher education
Another change in the Blackbaud index was the addition of the higher education as a new specialty index, The NonProfit Times reported. Analyzing fundraising revenue for more than 550 colleges and universities, the index found that gifts to these institutions grew a modest 0.8 percent year-over-year between February and April 2014. Online donations for colleges grew 20.5 percent and raised nearly $140 million over 12 months ending in April.

Higher education has become an important sector within the industry because of the growing number of young adults attending colleges and universities. Donors were likely driven by the modest economic growth and signs of a recovering real estate market. 

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