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Will anxious Americans open their wallets this Giving Tuesday?

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The Tuesday after Thanksgiving is one of the most crucially important days of the year for America’s 1.5 million nonprofits. Known as Giving Tuesday, it’s a day when charitable causes across the nation — from local food banks to homeless shelters — hope Americans’ generosity will flow their way.

Giving Tuesday has become a phenomenon, a day when millions come together to celebrate generosity, share kindness and drive giving to record-breaking levels.

Last year, some 35 million U.S. adults — one in every 6 over the age of 18 — participated in Giving Tuesday, donating a total of $2.7 billion to their favorite charities. That’s a 9% increase over 2020’s total.

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But will this year’s Giving Tuesday, Nov. 29, be different?

Facing soaring food prices and energy bills, a wobbly stock market and signs of a recession, will anxious Americans open their wallets for charity this year?

Nonprofits — especially those helping the poor and disadvantaged in our local communities — are absolutely banking on it.

New research provides a reason for optimism

A new research study conducted by DickersonBakker gives nonprofits reason to be optimistic. More than 84% of donors expect their charitable giving to stay the same or increase this year. Download the full report here.

If you’re a little skeptical about such forecasts, let me reassure you. Our nonprofit consultancy firm has been conducting donor insight studies for years, and they’ve proven remarkably accurate.

In 2020, for example, our survey predicted a very strong year for charitable giving despite COVID. It turned out to be one of the best giving years on record, with Americans donating a total of $484 billion to causes they care about.

It’s clearly evident there’s widespread pessimism this year about the overall economy. But that doesn’t appear to be dampening people’s enthusiasm to support their favorite charities.

While nearly nine out of 10 Americans believe we will dip into recession or the economy will shrink this year, the vast majority say it won’t affect their giving.

Our study shows the majority of donors appear to be shrugging off the impact of the rising cost of living as far as their giving is concerned. Small donors are likely to keep up their current giving level. And big donors are likely to give slightly more than they did last year.

Local causes most popular

While Americans remain positive about supporting overseas aid in places like Ukraine and other international relief and development efforts, “local” is their main focus right now.

Almost half say they intend to donate to causes that help vulnerable people in their own backyard.

Lesser priorities — though still important to donors — include military and veterans, education, healthcare, human rights issues, animal welfare, the environment, and the arts.

What does this tell us?

Despite the squeeze on finances and the threat of a recession, Americans are very much still in a characteristically generous mood.

Donor perception of need is the number one force driving their giving. They’re driven by the pressing needs they see around them — needs they see increasing, especially close to home.

Ready to give

As Americans, helping our neighbors — as well as those further afield — in hard times is very important to us.

And as higher heating bills and other rising costs affect the most vulnerable in the coming months, the pressure on local food banks, rescue missions, and nonprofits like The Salvation Army to meet swelling needs will only increase.

Americans know it — and they’re ready to respond benevolently.

Giving Tuesday is the prime time for nonprofits to reach out with high-need appeals, particularly as many donors are looking for year-end tax deductions. Nonprofits that don’t engage with donors now will miss out.

Yes, the times are tough — and could get even tougher. But the indicators are that we can ride out the storm on a wave of goodwill and generosity.

And that’s encouraging news for everyone.

Derric Bakker is the president of DickersonBakker (, a consultancy firm specializing in helping faith-based nonprofit organizations in the U.S., Canada, and overseas engage donors and maximize their charitable giving. Read the full report at Charitable Giving in the Wake of COVID-19.

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