Q1 2024 Higher Ed Giving Insights

At EverTrue, we’ve developed a trusted research asset curated specifically for studying high-level trends in giving, with the goal of sharing quarterly and yearly studies on the state of giving in Higher Education. This first report analyzes Q1 2024 philanthropic giving to Higher Education institutions in comparison to the previous three years.

Q1 2024 Data Overview

Q1 2024 data shows that while the number of donors is down, the total dollar amount donated is up:

  • 8.2% average decline in gifts in Q1 2024 compared to Q1 2023
  • 60% average and 18% median growth in dollars in Q1 2024 compared to Q1 2023

Exploring the Q1 Drop in Gift Count

After increases in 2022 and 2023, there was a decline in gift counts in 2024, marking the first decrease since the pandemic.


It’s important to note that the decrease in 2024 might not necessarily indicate less donor activity but rather delays in gift entry documentation. Monitoring trends in the next few months will be crucial in determining if the 2024 drop reflects a real change in donor behavior or just delays in entering gift data.

For those interested in further analysis, our recent study provides deeper insights into these trends and emphasizes the importance of flexible, personalized engagement strategies in improving fundraising outcomes.

Donor Retention Rates


This chart illustrates the retention rates of donors from Q1 of the previous year, who continued to contribute in the first three months of each calendar year. In 2024, there was a slight decline of 2.5 percentage points compared to 2023. This reduction likely contributes to the observed decrease in the overall number of donors this year. Understanding the factors behind this trend is crucial as it impacts fundraising strategies and donor engagement efforts.

Factors that could influence this decline include:

  • Changes in donor gift timing (they may have given earlier in the fiscal year)
  • Donor dissatisfaction
  • Shifts in fundraising practices

Addressing these challenges will be key to improving retention rates in the future, possibly through targeted 1-to-1 outreach efforts that enhance donor engagement.

The March 2024 Drop

The steep drop in March 2024, where gift counts fell by 17.2%, suggests a potential shift in donor behavior or external influences affecting their willingness to give.


Given the unknowns about each fundraising operation in the sample, it’s challenging to pinpoint the exact reasons for the dip in gift counts. Continuous monitoring of these trends in the upcoming months will be essential. This will help determine if the observed decrease is a temporary anomaly due to delayed data entry or a more sustained shift in donor behavior.

Comparing 2024 to 2023

This chart compares the total number of 2023 Q1 gifts vs. 2024 Q1 gifts for each institution in the sample. It illustrates a distinct trend of decreasing gift counts in 2024, with the average institution experiencing an -8.2% decline in Q1 performance this year.


Exploring the Year-over-Year Increase in Dollars


The median is likely a more accurate representation of what is “normal” within the sample data.


In Q1 2024, there were 52 gifts of $1 million or more, with the largest being a $10.5 million donation in late March. This represents a growth of 1.8 times in the number of $1 million+ gifts compared to Q1 2023, up from 29 such gifts.

Conclusion and Further Reading

Q1 2024 philanthropic giving data shows a complex picture for Higher Education institutions. The number of donors decreased by 8.2% compared to Q1 2023, while the total dollar amount donated increased by 60% on average with a median growth of 18%. This suggests shifts in donor behavior and fundraising practices that need further investigation.

The decline in gift counts, especially the 17.2% drop in March 2024, highlights potential changes in donor timing, satisfaction, or external influences. Understanding these factors is crucial for effective fundraising strategies and improving donor retention rates, which fell by 2.5 percentage points.

On a positive note, the number of $1 million+ gifts increased to 52, up from 29 in Q1 2023, indicating continued generosity among high-value donors.

Interested in more research like this? Explore our recent analysis of 9,600 donors, which highlights trends and emphasizes the need for flexible, personalized engagement strategies to improve fundraising in higher education. Be sure to subscribe to EverTrue’s RAISE blog for our quarterly and yearly studies, helping you adapt and thrive in an evolving philanthropic landscape. 

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