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The Blackbaud Institute Releases The State of the Social Sector: Navigating in a Time of Uncertainty

Charleston, S.C. (August 5, 2020)The Blackbaud Institute, a research division of Blackbaud (NASDAQ: BLKB), the world’s leading cloud software company powering social good, today releases The State of the Social Sector: Navigating in a Time of Uncertainty, a series of reports which seeks to help social good organizations interpret the rapidly changing landscape of 2020 and plan for a resilient future by applying lessons learned from past giving data and trends. 

“From recessions to significant natural disasters to political campaigns and social upheavals, looking back allows us to understand how philanthropy follows and often aligns with major events,” said Managing Director of the Blackbaud Institute Ashley Thompson. “In examining these trends, we can identify the core practices that have enabled organizations to weather past challenges and allow social good organizations to forge a path forward in the ever-changing 2020. While much remains uncertain, we can expect the events of 2020 to shake up charitable behavior across the sector.” 

The Blackbaud Institute’s The State of the Social Sector report coincides with the release of its quarterly charitable giving index, The Blackbaud Institute Index, and provides additional context into the potential long-term impacts of 2020 and how organizations can use these insights to plan and adapt for the future. In addition to this report, the Blackbaud Institute is also launching a sector-specific series to help organizations across the social good space make informed, data-driven decisions about how to navigate these times of uncertainty. 

Key insights from the report include: 

  • Though 2020 will be marked as a time of widespread change, the overarching trends in philanthropy are positive: individuals, companies and groups continue to invest in the causes they care about. Giving by individuals remains the largest contributor to overall giving year over year. And, overall giving in June increased by 1.2% for the last 12-months compared to the same months ending in June 2019. 
  • Major events and social movements have the power to temporarily attract attention toward specific causes. In 2017, for example, a multitude of circumstances motivated Americans to engage socially and politically1. In the immediate aftermath, organizations saw significant rises in households making new gifts. While organizations did not retain all those new donors, the spotlights shone on their causes provided a renewed interest in giving.  
  • History—specifically the 1970s and 80s—demonstrates that while social and political movements do not directly benefit all charitable subsectors, expanding the population of donors inevitably benefits all types of organizations. So far, 2020 has felt an unforeseeable convergence of similar influences, which will likely impact 2020’s climate of giving.

“In these unprecedented times, the way your organization adapts to challenges will determine both your current and long-term organizational health,” continued Thompson. “By looking back, we can provide a sense of stability in knowing that Americans are, and continue to be, philanthropic. We hope this additional context and insight will help members of the social good community harness all that is changing to propel their missions forward.”

Read the full State of the Social Sector report and view the sector-specific editions by visiting

1 Vital Signs Part 2: The Undeveloped Value of New Donors, Blackbaud Institute, 2018


About The Blackbaud Institute

The Blackbaud Institute drives research and insight to accelerate the impact of the social good community. It convenes expert partners from across the philanthropic sector to foster diverse perspectives, collective thinking and collaborative solutions to the world’s greatest challenges. Using the most comprehensive data set in the social good community, the Blackbaud Institute and its partners conduct research, uncover strategic insight and share results broadly to drive effective philanthropy at every stage, from fundraising to outcomes. Knowledge is powering the future of social good, and the Blackbaud Institute is an engine of that progress. Learn more, sign up for our newsletter, explore our knowledge base of social good best practices and trends, see the latest quarterly statistics on giving and check out our most recent resources at



About Blackbaud

Blackbaud (NASDAQ: BLKB) is the world’s leading cloud software company powering social good. Serving the entire social good community—nonprofits, higher education institutions, K–12 schools, healthcare organizations, faith communities, arts and cultural organizations, foundations, companies and individual change agents—Blackbaud connects and empowers organizations to increase their impact through cloud software, services, expertise and data intelligence. The Blackbaud portfolio is tailored to the unique needs of vertical markets, with solutions for fundraising and CRM, marketing, advocacy, peer-to-peer fundraising, corporate social responsibility, school management, ticketing, grantmaking, financial management, payment processing and analytics. Serving the industry for more than three decades, Blackbaud is headquartered in Charleston, South Carolina, and has operations in the United States, Australia, Canada, Costa Rica and the United Kingdom. For more information, visit or follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Facebook.


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