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The State of Modern Philanthropy 2022

The Path to Lasting Donor Connections

The Path to Lasting Donor Connections By Classy

The State of Modern Philanthropy 2022 is your guide to the most relevant fundraising insights for nonprofit professionals with Classy’s Path to Lasting Donor Connections. 


Along the path, you’ll be able to navigate through specific points of decision making to achieve your short-term goals and build the foundation for a long-term strategy. Choose the insights most relevant to help you build a diversified fundraising portfolio using a variety of campaign types and approaches.


The Path to Lasting Donor Connections is the most comprehensive view of Classy’s annual proprietary giving platform data analysis of campaign activity that led to $1.143 billion in donations. The data was collected between January and December of 2021 across:

This year, we invite you to take ownership of your reading experience with our interactive navigation to the insights that are most relevant to your organization’s current fundraising strategy and long-term planning. 


Classy’s Path to Lasting Donor Connections breaks down donation trends and insights across the three, most impactful decision-making stages for today’s nonprofit professionals. Start from the top, or dive straight into data specific to acquiring, converting, and retaining donors with the strongest campaign types and timing based on your fundraising outcomes.

The Path to Lasting Donor Connections

  • Executive Summary
  • ACQUIRE Discover New Ways to Captivate Donors
  • CONVERT Unlock Experiences That Lead to Completed Donations
  • RETAIN Strengthen Connections to Build Lasting Success
  • Classy’s Vision for the Next Era of Fundraising and Technology
  • Executive Summary
  • ACQUIRE: Discover New Ways to Captivate Donors
  • CONVERT: Unlock Experiences That Lead to Completed Donations
  • RETAIN: Strengthen Connections to Build Lasting Success
  • Classy’s Vision for the Next Era of Fundraising and Technology

Executive Summary of Report Findings

There is no single approach to fundraising that accounts for each nonprofit’s unique challenges, goals, and ideas. Classy’s Path to Lasting Donor Connections elevates three decision-making stages that can help diversify your campaign portfolio and inform your campaigns, channels, and timing to position your organization for long-term success.

Focus Areas for Scalable Fundraising in 2022

The following are the key focus areas that continuously surfaced throughout the stages of the Path to Lasting Donor Connections.

  1. Events are back and driving renewed revenue potential. Not only did we see tremendous year-over-year donation volume growth for events, but events with peer-to-peer fundraising converted at 47%, the highest rate of all campaign types. Hybrid and online fundraising event platforms will further enable nonprofits to enhance experiences and connect with attendees this year.
  2. Donors give more, when they have choices. Organizations leave money on the table when they fail to give donors modern payment options. The average one-time donation was nearly 1.5X more when nonprofits offered ACH, PayPal, and digital wallet payments. Adding in options like Venmo and cryptocurrency will enhance this personal touch shown to increase conversions, gift sizes, and volume of recurring donations.
  3. Fundraising among peers thrives on social media. Time-based campaigns that include peer-to-peer raise on average 3.8X more than all other time-based campaign types. We also saw that 32% of the mobile traffic to peer-to-peer campaigns is from social media, a key channel that existing supporters can use to bring in new networks of donors. 

The State of Modern Philanthropy 2022 demonstrates the importance of a diversified campaign portfolio for fundraising strategies that scale through uncertainties, as we’ve seen during the COVID-19 pandemic and the quickly evolving behavioral norms of today’s American donors

As a leader in the social sector, implementing multiple campaign types and approaches into your fundraising strategy will uniquely position your organization to benefit from short-term success while building the foundation for a long-term fundraising machine.

Discover New Ways to Captivate Donors

Look at new ways to reach untapped donor networks and engage them to take action through the right mix of compelling campaigns. Dive in for a better understanding of effective marketing channels, trends in mobile giving by campaign type, and campaign-specific ROI to inform a robust fundraising portfolio.

Direct traffic and social media raise brand awareness

To decide which marketing channels are most effective for cause awareness, consider allocating resources to the channels that drive the most traffic to your campaign pages. Organic social media activity can be a major conduit to connect with new donors in your cause awareness campaigns. 

*Direct traffic is defined as a user who navigates directly to your campaign page.

*Known marketing channels include all channels that could be attributed by source. Unknown channels were not included.

Direct links and emails get donors to take action

We’ll compare each channel’s traffic-driving potential to its conversion rate to help you decide where to promote donation-focused content. Campaign appeals are best suited for the channels that bring in donors who are most likely to click through to a donation page and give. 

Take a look below at the marketing channels that drive traffic to a campaign page.

*Direct traffic is defined as a user who navigates directly to your campaign page.

A mix of platforms drives both traffic and conversions

Social media is an increasingly important strategy for donor acquisition. Ensure your message resonates with donors who are more likely to take action by using a multi-channel approach to reach them.

While Facebook pulls in more supporters, LinkedIn and Instagram show potential as key social media platforms that attract motivated supporters who are ready to complete donations.

Once you land on a marketing plan, consider which campaigns are best to promote to convert donors.

Donors are likely to land on campaigns from a phone

Successfully attract new donors by understanding which campaigns they find compelling enough to support and which devices they use to get there. Mobile devices override desktops in most cases, and the donors who use mobile often find causes through social media. In particular, social platforms lead donors to crowdfunding campaigns and events with peer-to-peer fundraising. 

Test each of your campaigns by navigating through the experience from a campaign landing page to a donation form on various devices and screens. Identify any potential points of friction that might slow a donor’s momentum.

*An event with peer-to-peer fundraising is an in-person, virtual, or hybrid Classy event where registrants can fundraise on the organization’s behalf.

Peer-to-peer fundraising takes flight on social media

We already know that Facebook leads the way in traffic to campaign pages, but now we investigate by campaign type to better understand the influence of mobile and social media traffic. 

*An event with peer-to-peer fundraising is an in-person, virtual, or hybrid Classy event where registrants can fundraise on the organization’s behalf.

Beyond donor acquisition, consider which campaigns are critical to drive revenue year-round.

Events are back, and they’re reigniting donor generosity

Annual events made a comeback in 2021, with many nonprofits deciding between virtual formats, in-person experiences, and a hybrid mix of both. As events returned as a stable income stream, we explore the way they’ve impacted lasting donor relationships through recurring giving in the next decision-making stage.

Here are the campaign types with the most growth in overall donation volume between 2020 and 2021:

  • Ticketed events (49% growth)
  • Events with peer-to-peer fundraising* (23% growth)
  • Peer-to-peer (10% growth)

*An event with peer-to-peer fundraising is an in-person, virtual, or hybrid Classy event where registrants can fundraise on the organization’s behalf.

To maximize campaign donation volume, we’ll dive into giving seasonality and trends by the month, week, day, and hour.

Giving peaks on Tuesday at 10 a.m.

A major ingredient of successful donor outreach is strategically timing your communications to align with current giving tendencies, down to the hours that donations occur most often. 

We dove into the data to identify a baseline for 2021 giving, noting that donation volume remains relatively steady throughout the week with a dip over the weekend. Within a given day, the highest donation volume occurs between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. in a donor’s local time zone, with 10 a.m. as the peak.

Year-end giving continues to fuel donor acquisition and volume

Giving Tuesday and year-end campaigns that run throughout November and December are imperative to capitalize on the giving season.

These campaigns are often successful through a variety of campaign types from events, to peer-to-peer fundraising, donation pages, and crowdfunding that further diversify the options you offer to support your cause in a given year.

How to Put This Data Into Action

Fuel year-round donations with multi-channel marketing at the right time to the right campaigns.

Refocus donor acquisition efforts by marketing channel
  • Include direct calls to action on high-converting platforms like LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter to target motivated supporters who are ready to donate
  • Diversify posts with brand and cause awareness-focused content on platforms like Facebook to increase visibility to widespread audiences and educate prospective donors on the impact of your work
Focus on fundraising events as a key stream of revenue
  • Approach events as a space to build relationships with first-time donors and establish lasting, meaningful connections that fuel time-bound and year-end campaigns
  • Include a virtual event component to help out-of-state donors feel included and connected to your cause
Greet year-end donors with a mobile-optimized campaign
  • Launch campaigns with the largest fundraising goals ahead of November to build momentum before giving levels spike
  • Thoroughly test your mobile donation experience on all channels, devices, and screens to ensure a seamless and secure way to give
Plan a mid-year fundraising analysis during giving slumps
  • Gather stakeholders to evaluate campaign performance and trends in your database during the first half of the year to prepare for the busy season ahead
  • Align your outreach strategies with giving peaks to re-engage less active donors ahead of Giving Tuesday and year-end initiatives

Unlock Experiences That Lead to Completed Donations

Your donation form will either lead visitors to complete a donation, or create friction that ends in an abandoned cart. Learn how small enhancements to a donation form like the inclusion of multiple, easy-to-use payment options can improve conversion rates.

Events convert donors more than any other campaign

Whether your goal is to attract first-time donors or continue offering existing donors simple ways to show their support, conversion data can tell you how effective your campaign portfolio is in reaching your goals.

Below are the campaigns with the highest average conversion rates. You’ll see that events and peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns converted donors at the highest rates, which reflects the campaigns’ growth in donation volume in 2021.

*An event with peer-to-peer fundraising is an in-person, virtual, or hybrid Classy event where registrants can fundraise on the organization’s behalf.


*A conversion represents either a donation transaction or a registration to an event.

Recurring giving thrives when donors have options

Recurring transactions represented 58% of all individual transaction events on Classy’s giving platform (this encompasses all transactions, including automatic, recurring payments), an increase of 18% between 2020 and 2021. Cultivating this sustainable and predictable revenue stream helps you better navigate fundraising fluctuations. It also helps inform how you communicate and segment this cohort of donors that have already chosen to donate. 

Discover how recurring donations can impact your revenue potential throughout the year based on the frequencies you offer. Here are the frequencies at which most recurring gifts are made, and the average donation amount coming in regularly through each.

*In 2021, Classy introduced additional daily, weekly, and bi-weekly recurring gift frequencies, and we’ll report on the momentum of these options as reliable data accrues over time.

Donation pages are critical to recurring giving

Understand which campaigns bring in the most recurring revenue to help you drive long-term, sustainable growth. A year-round donation page brings in more than double the recurring revenue of peer-to-peer campaigns and we found it has the highest potential to acquire new recurring donors. It’s still beneficial to include a recurring donation option on your other campaigns to increase donation potential.

Once donors feel called to make a one-time or recurring gift, lead them through a streamlined payment process.

Payments processors influence donation volume

The payment options you offer, along with donors’ expectations when they land on your donation form, can make or break their decision to complete their gift.

Below is a breakdown of the impact on donation volume and gift size that resulted from the adoption of  Classy’s payment solution, Classy Pay. This option gives nonprofits an easy way to offer digital wallets, credit card payments, ACH bank transfers, and PayPal, alongside the newly added options in 2022—Venmo and cryptocurrency.

When donors have options, gift sizes increase

Take the time to understand how each payment option impacts a donor’s likelihood to give. These insights can also inform the way you drive donors to your donation pages.

Organizations without Classy Pay see an average one-time gift of $127. PayPal has incredible momentum as a modern payment option, increasing that average one-time gift by $30 when a nonprofit enables PayPal in Classy Pay.

*PayPal became available on Classy Pay in November 2021

How to Put This Data Into Action

Lead with flexible, frictionless ways for donors to take action on donation forms.

Create a conversion-focused checkout experience
  • Present donors with a simple-to-navigate form with minimal fields, suggested donation amounts, and clear guidance on how to complete their gifts
  • Prompt quick action with donation pop-ups or modals on your website that offer various payment options
Place a recurring gift option on all donation forms
  • Offer donors the option to give at multiple frequencies, especially on event and main donation pages
  • Establish predictable income streams for the year by identifying the frequencies your donors choose most often
Choose a payment solution to increase giving and retention
  • Include ACH to double transaction sizes, alongside other enticing payment options on your donation pages
  • Increase gifts with modern and mobile-friendly payment options like PayPal, cryptocurrency, and Venmo

Strengthen Connections to Build Lasting Success

You have an opportunity to engage and inspire donors to continue giving, upgrade their impact, and evangelize your cause as brand ambassadors. Learn when donors churn, which campaigns retain donations throughout the year, and what hooks major donors to become life-long supporters.

Recurring gifts are most likely to end in January

Throughout each decision-making stage, we’ve seen a consistent spike in one-time and recurring donor acquisition and donation volume in November and December. When we explore the months in which a recurring donation is most likely to be canceled, January stands out as a necessary focus area for organizations.

*Churn is defined as the number of individuals who ended their recurring payments in the year 2021.

The first month after a recurring gift informs retention

If retention is your key focus area this year, it’s important to see which campaigns result in the highest rate of canceled donations. That should inform your proactive outreach in the months following a donation.

Events drive donation volume, but without nurtured relationships, donors churn at high rates. We broke down when donors are most likely to churn based on the campaign type that attracted them.

*An event with peer-to-peer fundraising is an in-person, virtual, or hybrid Classy Event where registrants can fundraise on the organization’s behalf.

Recurring monthly gifts sustain revenue

Monthly donations continue to deliver the most potential for sustainable revenue compared to other frequencies, based on average donation amount and retention.

*In 2021, Classy introduced daily, weekly, and bi-weekly recurring gift frequencies. We’ll report on the momentum of these options as reliable data accrues over time.

*Churn is defined as the number of individuals who ended their recurring payments in the year 2021.


Donors give again through donation pages

The campaigns donors look to when they return can inform your retention strategy. When a donor made a second donation in 2021, either to the same organization or a new one, 60% did so through a donation page. That number drops to just 15% for crowdfunding campaigns, the second-most common way a second donation was made.

When paired with the simplest path to give, as noted in the Convert stage, your donation page and a clear main donate button on your website become two of your most powerful tools to retain donations.

Explore how to introduce donors to greater impact potential through major giving.

Donations over $5,000 are more likely at year-end

The way you cultivate relationships with major donors will depend on your understanding of how they interact with organizations before that big gift.

The average organization on Classy raised 5% more in 2021 than in 2020, and 2020 was already a record-breaking year on our giving platform. Implementing multiple innovative strategies and aligning your cause with current events is essential for donation volume growth, and this will continue in 2022. Major donations are a key focus area for organizations looking for sustainable growth.

Donations above $1,000 represent 1.5% of all donations on the Classy Giving Platform. Here’s the breakdown of those donations above $1,000:

  • 12% were above $5,000
  • 4% were above $10,000
  • 1% were above $20,000

When we separated out donations over $1,000, $5,000, and $10,000 by how many were completed each month, every giving level showed that 50% or more occurred between November and December. December is by far the most common month to see a major gift come in, and highlights an opportunity to bring more major gifts online. 

Events are a key source of major donations

Major donations are most likely to come in on weekdays through ticketed events. Aligning with the overall donation volume trends we saw in the Acquire stage, 10 a.m. is also the peak time for major donors to complete a gift. 

*An event with peer-to-peer fundraising is an in-person, virtual, or hybrid Classy event where registrants can fundraise on the organization’s behalf.

Retain supporters who can’t give a major donation or sustain a recurring gift by inviting them to fundraise.

Timely fundraising prompts social giving momentum

Peer-to-peer fundraising enables your passionate donors to spin up turnkey, individual fundraising pages and make a bigger impact without needing to pull from their own wallets alone. They can share these pages with their networks on social media to solicit donations and boost awareness.

How to Put This Data Into Action

Build a year-round retention strategy with diversified approaches to expand impact.

Automate targeted welcome emails
  • Follow up with every recurring donor within the first month of their initial recurring gift. Highlight the clear impact of their generosity before they consider canceling their subscription
  • Segment communication by donation history to keep donors connected to your cause in a way that resonates, updated on progress toward a timely goal, and aware of the next level of giving
Make recurring donor retention a new year priority
  • Present donors with opportunities to re-engage after year-end to get ahead of January churn rates
  • Use annual results as a relationship-building tool on your website and social media platforms to reiterate the value of each donor
Fund impactful projects with a major donor pipeline
  • Keep a running list of donors who give over $1,000 at year-end to nurture in the new year as potential major donors
  • Invite potential major donors to ticketed events to connect in a more personal way that motivates larger donations
Increase your impact with cause evangelists
  • Lean into peer-to-peer fundraising as a way for all donors to evangelize your cause regardless of their financial position
  • Establish a community of cause evangelists to keep fundraisers motivated and thinking of new ways to connect, especially on social media

Classy’s Vision for the Next Era of Fundraising and Technology

A powerful fundraising strategy can only be brought to life by technology that solves for the needs of modern nonprofits and informs decisions at every stage. The result is flexibility to meet society’s biggest challenges with innovative approaches—this is the foundation of the Classy giving platform.

The Classy Product Philosophy

Classy evaluates the challenges and opportunities across our customer base and industry to provide a flexible and comprehensive platform that serves the diverse needs of our customers.

By keeping a pulse on the evolving donor landscape, we shape our forward-looking approach to build intentional offerings and excellent product experiences, like a hybrid and virtual event platform, and an extensive payment processor of modern options like Venmo, PayPal, and cryptocurrency.

Our focused technology empowers organizations to better tell their stories and execute on their most ambitious fundraising initiatives at every decision-making stage of the fundraising process. We offer nonprofits a flexibile, data-driven giving platform that makes it easy to mobilize the world for good. To learn more about Classy, take a look at our offerings below.

Enabling greater impact for thousands of nonprofits

Our portfolio of fundraising tools makes thousands of nonprofits more effective in engaging their supporters and building meaningful connections. It’s an ongoing partnership to make a greater impact in the world. We create the technology, but it’s your innovation that determines the potential of what we can do together.

In 2021, the Classy giving platform connected 4,682,016 donors to causes they care about, resulting in 12,939,386 donations that amounted to $1,147,852,462 raised for good.

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