The 2017 version of the Fundraising Effectiveness Project report is just out and is must reading for any professional fundraiser.
This annual study is quite special because the findings are drawn directly from donor database records rather than being based upon estimates or survey results.
This year’s report is based upon actual donations coming in during 2016, which total over $9.1 billion, which leads us to the first key takeaway:
1. Overall Giving Rose 3% from 2015 to 2016
This should be your first point of comparison: did my organization’s overall giving increase by 3%?
This only tells part of the story, as many of you know, since it is the make up of the giving, particularly the retention percentages that can make such a difference in future years.
2. Donor Retention Held Steady at 45%
The 2016 rate did decline ever so slightly but not enough to still be considered anything other than 45%. The reason this percentage still stubbornly remains below 50% is even larger loss of new first time donors.
Those first time donors not giving again at such high rates make it difficult for any organization to push their overall donor retention upwards.
Those who do, most likely have applied proper procedures and extra efforts to attempt to build more of a relationship with those brand new donors. Such extra efforts as making a phone call, writing a handwritten note, inviting them in for a tour or to another smaller event can pay huge dividends in improvements in new donor retention rates.
3. Larger Organizations Have Higher Donor Retention
The difference in donor retention rates between different size organizations is striking, if not scary!
- Organizations less than $100K (-10.4%)
- Organizations $100K – $500K (+1.2%)
- Organizations more than $500K (+8.6%)
Is this just a resource issue?
Lack of resources is most likely the largest cause, however here are the others that come to mind and perhaps also play a part:
- Lack of Fundraising Training
- Improper Database Tools
- Outdated Communication Practices
- Staff Turnover
- Low Board Involvement
- Goals of a Wrong Nature
What others come to mind that would thwart smaller organizations from having donor retention success?
4. Every Database Vendor Should Be Participating
With how easy it is now, based upon cloud computing, to submit data to this project there is simply no reason anything other than 100% participation should be the case.
The sharing of such data is the norm is just about every other sector ranging from auto sales related results to refrigerator sales to zinc that is sold.
With a complete data set it would be much easier to segment the data for comparison purposes along such areas as these:
- Annual Revenue
- Type of Nonprofit
- Region of the Country
- Type of Fundraising Practices
- Staff Size
- Expense Ratios
Think how much more powerful this would be for all fundraisers, senior management and boards to use for metric and goal setting!
My thanks to the following 2015-2016 Data Providers!
If you are reading this blog post and your database provider is not listed above, please urge them to be part of this endeavor in the future. With large scale participation best practices and metrics already in place will begin to improve annually!
You can view the full 2017 FEP Survey Report here >>
For a more in-depth analysis of the 2016 data, check out the 2016 Fundraising Effectiveness Donor Retention Supplement. A supplement of the 2017 data is forthcoming.
What data point from the report did you find most interesting? Let me know in the comments below!