Show Me The Data

Show Me The Data 2015

A List of Annually Published Research Studies & Reports on the Nonprofit Sector

This report, just released today, was written by Rebecca Davis, PhD, CFRE. The report is a list of 29 studies—all of which are published annually, bi-annually, or more frequently—that are of interest to nonprofit professionals. These studies, for the most part, focus on fundraising and  marketing, but a few touch on other topics (like compensation) or cover a broad spectrum of organizations in a particular region or within a particular issue focus.

With the prevalence of data in a global knowledge economy, it’s probably impossible to be comprehensive. No doubt, I’ve overlooked some studies that should be a part of this list. If you’re aware of a significant study I’ve missed that should be added to this report or if you work with one of these reports and want to correct your listing, please email me.


Development Planning

At this time of year, many people are engaged in the process of creating a fundraising plan. The data in the reports below can be helpful to:

  • Decide which fundraising tactics to include in your plan
  • Understand the trends in giving
  • Identify best-practices
  • Create fundraising budgets
  • Set realistic goals by helping you know industry result norms
  • Choose metrics to use to determine ROI and measure success.

However, the reports listed below can be useful for anyone—whether in the process of development planning or not—for benchmarking, looking for best practices, or for knowing more about trends in nonprofit management, fundraising, giving, and connecting with donors.

Here are the entries from the report about 3 of the studies described.  A link to the full list of studies is available for download as a PDF free in the resources section of our website.

Annual Giving USA

Long-running report (published nearly 60 years), the Annual Giving USA report is collaboratively produced by the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and the Giving Institute which examines national trends in American philanthropy. The report estimates total national giving and total national giving by sector (corporate, individual, foundation, bequest) to highlight not only the current state of giving but also national trends.  The Giving USA highlights (an executive summary) is free, but other versions of the report (paperback, tables, digital kit with data, etc.) range in price from $24.95 to $399.95.

Doing Well by Doing Good

The Nielsen Company conducts research and analysis on consumer views of corporate social responsibility (such as company’s building LEED-certified buildings or supporting a cause) and consumer’s interest and willingness to purchase. The company’s reports have different titles, different years, but there are many similarities among them almost as if they were a research series. Available here:

Text Donation Study

Based on an annual survey, the MGive Foundation examines self-reported individual giving behavior. Each year, the study breaks-down the demographics of text-to-give donors sharing their age, gender, educational level, and marital status and explores perspectives on mobile giving, especially attitudes about mobile giving in comparison to views of other forms of giving. The study also examines whether or not mobile giving cannibalizes other forms of giving (spoiler alert: it doesn’t!). You can find a link to the 2015 study here:


All 29 studies described on this list are annotated with information about the studies scope, purpose, type of data used, how long it has been published, and more. This list should be on the desktop of every nonprofit professional's computer and with the price being rock-bottom (it's free!), you're going to love it.