As nonprofits, and the people and communities they serve, faced compounding challenges over the past year plus, individual donors have provided crucial support. In fact, increased financial support from individual donors — in addition to foundations and the government — helped nonprofits to fare better through 2020 than nonprofit leaders had expected.[i] Further, a recent report from the Urban Institute found that most nonprofits, especially small nonprofits, say that support from individual donors is very important for their work.[ii]

Given the importance of individual donors to nonprofits, in the spring and summer of this year, the Center for Effective Philanthropy (CEP) surveyed and interviewed nonprofit leaders to understand how their experiences working with individual donors have changed since the pandemic began. (For methodological information, please see here.)

Here is what we learned:

The biggest changes that nonprofit leaders have experienced in working with individual donors are:

  1. Their relationships with individual donors have grown stronger.
  2. Individual donors have provided them with more unrestricted support. 

In this two-part blog series, we examine these changes in-depth. The first post focused on changes in relationships between nonprofit leaders and individual donors; this second post examines the increase in unrestricted support that individual donors have provided nonprofits.

Unrestricted Support

Nonprofit leaders emphasize that they need unrestricted support to do their best work and, since the pandemic began, almost half have received more unrestricted support from individual donors.[iii] Those that have received more of this type of support speak to its positive impact, including the ability to meet changing needs, retain staff, and, quite simply, do their work.

Most of those who have not experienced a change in the amount of unrestricted support they receive from individual donors say there was no change necessary because their individual donors were already providing unrestricted support. 

Read the full article about unrestricted support by Hannah Martin at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.