International Giving Rebounds after Recession-Year Declines

U.S. philanthropy to international affaires organizations grew by 13.2% in 2013, marking a rebound in global giving after donations dipped 4.7% in 2012.

These figures come out of the latest Blackbaud Charitable Giving Report, which also found that overall charitable giving in the U.S. rose by 4.9% compared to the previous year. The report is based on a study of 4,129 nonprofit organizations, representing $12.5 billion in fundraising. Organizations in the report are categorized by their NTEE code, so international affaires organizations can include causes ranging from disaster relief to human rights advocacy. Other types of organizations in the report included those dedicated to medical research, public/society benefits, arts & culture, faith-based, human services, healthcare, education, and environment/animal welfare.

While all sectors saw an increase in fundraising, international affaires organization emerged the strongest in growth. Bob Ottenhoff, president and CEO of the Center for Natural Disaster Philanthropy, speculated in the report that this is due to international organizations’ efforts to do more long-term engagement with donors. International organizations are trying to get donors to understand that when disasters occur, help is needed not just in the immediate aftermath, but also in the recovery, reconstruction, and prevention stages.

Source: Blackbaud Charitable Giving Report


Disaggregating the data, the Blackbaud report found that most giving to international causes occurred during April (18.5%), November (10.4%), and December (15.4%). While the skew towards funds raised in the last months of the year is expected, the sudden bump in April does represent an outlier. By comparison, April 2012 represented just 6.76% of total funds raised among international affaires organizations for that year. The report does not explicitly say why, but we might reasonably assume that floods in Argentina, a major earthquake in China, and a factory collapse in Bangladesh had some correlation with April’s fundraising results.

Disaster giving aside, it would be interesting to see what other factors may have contributed to the growth in international funding. Barring additional disasters, which are the usual catalysts for giving, if the growth in international giving continues through coming years, we might want to look into whether America’s changing demographics has anything to do it.

Foreign-born individuals now make up 12.9% of the U.S. population. That computes to about 40 million people, and the number has been growing steadily since the 1970s. As seen in a recent report on BRICS diaspora philanthropy report, most members of a diaspora are indeed looking to give back to their country of origin. The Blackbaud report does not collect information on donors’ backgrounds so we can’t be sure, but perhaps the increase in giving to international affaires is also hinting towards the growing strength of diaspora philanthropy.

Cover image courtesy of Joe Dielis (Flickr/Creative Commons)

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