Fundraising Trends and Case History



Foundation Giving In the US


Between 2016 and 2017, total annual charitable giving in the US rose about 9.85 percent, reflecting steady solid growth in most giving categories and major recipient subsectors. Foundation giving was up 6.0 percent, to an estimated $66.9 billion in 2017.i

GUSA 2016 Infographic Horizontal


All research and sector forecasting reports indicate that foundation giving will continue to grow steadily in the US for the foreseeable future. Although foundation giving is closely tied to behavior in the stock market and total economic health, it has continued to increase independent of variances in both S&P and GDP over the past five years.

“… foundations typically budget their giving based on asset growth, trends in the prior year’s S&P 500 impact giving in the current year. As such, average to above-average predicted growth in the S&P 500 in 2017 and 2018 will influence strong foundation giving in 2018 and 2019.” (Global Philanthropy Outlook 2018 & 2019)

Changing demographics and technologies will also play a powerful role in boosting foundation giving in the coming decade. Upwardly-mobile Millennials have been shown more likely to use their wealth to greater social impact than any preceding generationii. This trend has been illustrated by such groups as the Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, along with the rise in popularity of donor-advised funds and online fundraising platforms. Millennials tend to give more in-line with their values and integrate philanthropic activities into everyday life, so campaigns that capitalize on these trends will prove highly successful.

GDS carefully considers broad giving trends as well as high-growth opportunities within the NPO and charitable sector when matching client programs to specific fundraising bodies. In addition to trend forecasting and research, our researchers use a cutting edge tool called My Best Prospects to identify the prospects most likely to fund a certain cause or project. This evidence-based approach is implemented early on, in our Assessment of Opportunity, and is found in each initial proposal for service. From there we can help refine and orient each client’s unique plan for successfully meeting their fundraising goal.

Foundation Giving In Canada


Foundation giving in Canada has shown a similar path of growth and expansion when compared to its nearby neighbor, the United States. Although the total size of the foundation giving category is much smaller, Canada has a healthy non-profit sector, supported by government and public bodies funding a broad range of activities from social services, to health and education, to the arts and Aboriginal organizations.

Because of its proximity to and close association with the US, many of the broad demographic and technological trends happening across the border also hold true for Canadians.

The overall number of Foundations within Canada has been steadily increasing over the last five years, topping 11,000 in 2017 with total combined assets of over $59 billion.

Case History


GDS has completed numerous assignments for organizations with different missions, operating budgets and stages of development—from start-up to mature organizations.

Since each project is different in some way, we’ve selected one that demonstrates elements of timing, process and results.

Sample Case:

A ten year old NGO located in Washington, DC, with a small to moderate operating budget came to GDS after the US State Department dramatically cut their funds for education workshops that promoted democracy in the Middle East.

Since their traditional avenues for funding had been cut, they needed credible materials and alternatives in a short period of time.

GDS was able to step in and create all fundraising documentation—Case for Support, Letter of Inquiry and Grant Proposal—within 90 days. Not only this, but we provided an additional list of qualified potential donors which they were able to pursue using our provided documentation as templates for an appeal.

Funding was received in the fall for $325,000 which enabled our client to implement their programs and be in the forefront of the democratic revolution taking place in the Middle East.


iGiving USA 2018: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2018, Giving USA Foundation, 2018, Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.

iiThe Philanthropy Outlook 2018 & 2019, Marts & Lundy, Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Indiana University: pg.25.