Total GivingTuesday donations were flat this year, but 10% fewer people participated in the day

NEW YORK — Nonprofit organization GivingTuesday estimates that donors gave $3.1 billion this year on what has become one of the most important fundraising days of the year — the Tuesday after Thanksgiving.

Donations were up $20 million on Tuesday, a 0.6% increase over last year before adjusting for inflation, the nonprofit said. GivingTuesday makes its estimate by drawing on data from donor management software companies, donation platforms, payment processors and donor-advised funds.

“On the one hand, this is fantastic,” said Woodrow Rosenbaum, GivingTuesday’s chief data officer. “Tens of millions of people in the U.S. came together once again to have a huge impact for causes they care about, including donating an enormous amount of money in a 24 hour period.”

But the number of donors was down about 10% from 2022, which Rosenbaum called a worst case scenario for the sector: “We’re seeing less dollars from the big donor that we’ve been relying upon and fewer grassroots donors who are so important to our resilience and long-term health of the sector.”

Nonprofit organizations and industry groups have been warning that donations this year are down, which follows a drop in overall charitable giving in 2022 for only the fourth time in 40 years, according to Giving USA.

It’s still too early to know whether end-of-year giving will pull charitable donations back up this year.

Elaine Kenig, chief communications officer at Vanguard Charitable, which hosts donor-advised funds, said about 30% of the total grant dollars donated from those accounts each year go out in the last two months of the calendar year.

“We absolutely lean into those traditional cycles of giving, which I feel like GivingTuesday really capitalizes on,” she said.

But their account holders also responded with urgency to major events like the wildfires that devastated Maui in August, Kenig said.

“Giving is the nicest thing to do and the best thing to do. And you get more from it than probably what you give,” said Naomi Thompson, who works for a cancer charity in Northern Ireland. Especially when donors feel like they have less to give, she suggested really considering whether the organization’s work makes an impact on the donor’s community.

GivingTuesday’s estimates don’t include gifts to mutual aid groups, donations to political organizations or gifts made directly to individuals, Rosenbaum said. Still, the results may indicate further difficult times ahead.

“When we see this increase in the average donation on GivingTuesday,” Rosenbaum said, “We see that as a warning sign, not as something that we should be looking for.”