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Winkler Group Predicts Unprecedented Giving in Response to Crisis into 2021

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Charitable giving grew by nearly 8% during the third quarter of 2020 over 2019 according to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project’s 2020 Third Quarter Report, which is administered by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). The amount raised on Giving Tuesday (December 1, 2020) was 25% higher than it was in 2019. The Winkler Group, a nonprofit consulting firm based in Charleston, South Carolina, predicts these trends will continue in 2021 based on their work with both local and national nonprofit clients.

Factors that are motivating major donors: the stimulus bill recently passed by Congress and the desire to move forward post-pandemic. With the stimulus bill, donors can elect to deduct up to 100% of their adjusted gross income (AGI) limit for cash contributions—this was increased from 60%. This applies to contributions made in 2020, but the Winkler Group expects to see similar incentives in 2021.

Over the past year, record stock market gains have inflated the value of many potential donors’ stock portfolios. These donors are motivated to avoid paying taxes by giving appreciated stock to charities instead.

“From the beginning, we predicted that donors would be generous in response to the crisis, but we were not prepared for the levels of generosity we have witnessed,” said Tim Winkler, founder and CEO of the Winkler Group. “We fully expect to see the trend of transformational gifts continue well into 2021.”

HALOS, a nonprofit organization based in Charleston that serves family members and friends raising children in an effort to keep them out of foster care, received nearly $130,000 from one donor in the last few months of 2020. “We received multiple smaller gifts then one large gift from a donor who doesn’t want recognition. This donor was simply compelled by our communication and wanted to help,” said Jennifer Richard, director of philanthropy, HALOS. “We were able to give specific examples of how donations were making an impact, and then we received a transformational six-figure gift. Our clients are disproportionately impacted by the pandemic—they are facing eviction and food insecurity– and by sharing stories of how their lives were changed through generosity, this donor stepped up in an extremely impactful way.”

Winkler Group research has found that large gifts have crossed sectors, from higher education to community service organizations, not only to front-line organizations fighting the impacts of COVID-19. Donors are giving because they are exhausted by the pandemic, a term called pandemic fatigue. Donors are looking toward the future and donating to ensure the causes they care deeply about thrive post-pandemic.

For Dorchester Paws, the largest animal shelter in Dorchester County, a donor recently stepped forward with a $500,000 gift to help build a new shelter. “It was such a significant gift,” said Maddie Moore, director of the shelter. “Our staff veterinarian cried when she heard about it. This gift will have a profound impact on the sustainability of our shelter.”

These gifts were made to organizations and institutions that kept fundraising throughout the pandemic. Winkler Group studies revealed that these gifts underscore the importance of regular donor communication and more cultivation than solicitation.

Read more research from Winkler Group and download free fundraising resources, such as “Four Benchmarks that Will Predict Your Campaign’s Success in 2021.”

About Winkler Group

Founded in 2004, the Winkler Group is national nonprofit consulting firm headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina, with offices in North Carolina, Georgia, and Florida. The firm specializes in working with nonprofits to develop the strategies to raise more money with capital campaigns and strategic planning. With a hands-on, servant leadership model, Winkler Group works to strengthen the philanthropic health of organizations so they can spend time focusing on their mission. Visit winklergroup.com or call (843) 849-6256 for more information.

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