Human Services Organizations (HSOs) – which include a large number of agencies and services visible to millions of Americans – represent the largest percentage of all public charities (35.5%) – but they received only 11.7% of charitable giving in 2015, according to Giving USA.  The levels of sophistication in terms of successful fundraising vary widely . . . much to the chagrin of those who provide services or who support these causes.

HSOs range in size from very large primarily government-supported entities to relatively small and diverse nonprofits that provide care for the homeless, critical support services for children at risk, food pantries for low-income people, and other programs that address aspects of American life that most of us take for granted.

Until recently, inadequate information has been available to compare fundraising efforts across or within subsectors, and this has impacted how “best practices” and other successful efforts are highlighted or shared. 

Recognizing this critical void, a number of software firms, in cooperation with the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and the Urban Institute’s Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy, combined forces in 2012 to launch the Growth in Giving (GIG) Initiative to create a massive database that will help advance research, education, and public understanding of philanthropy in the human services arena.

I was proud to collaborate with several others on the just-released “Giving USA Philanthropy Spotlight” that documents how human services organizations have nearly caught up with other types of nonprofits in fundraising productivity, and shows how HSOs can use their own data to learn how to thrive and grow. This special “Spotlight” also includes possibilities for further research and ways to impact  fundraising success.

The GUSA Philanthropy Spotlight, “Benchmarking Giving to Human Services,” is now available to download for $19.95 at