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AFP’s annual State of the Sector report should be required reading for every professional fundraiser. The 2016 report (available here) is no exception.

If you are an avid reader of key publications and research surrounding the nonprofit sector, then many of the underlying articles comprising the State of the Sector report will be familiar to you. A review emphasizing the most important factors influencing your fundraising work will be more than helpful.

We will concentrate on a four key aspects within two sections. The first section revolves around the donor retention portion.

Donor Retention

Most of the insights contained in this section come from research created by the Urban Institute and backed by the Association of Fundraising Professionals the Fundraising Effectiveness Project.

Our first two key insights contained within the donor retention grouping are:

1. $250 is the Sweet Spot to Aim for

When a donor reaches this level of giving two really important and wonderful things happen. First, the retention rate soars to 76%, which is far above the overall average in the low to mid forty percent range depending on the year reviewed. Such retention rates allow for up to twenty years or more of giving when charted out. (Plus, we all know that donors of five or more years who have seen and been told the immense impact of their above average giving are the best stewards of other potential donors!)

Second, the $250 & up donor provides 95% of the funding dollars to the average nonprofit. Just think about it, if you can keep this group of donors informed, involved and committed you begin each fundraising year with 95% of last year’s results already coming in!

In addition, this group is also the most likely to upgrade, thereby funding the vast majority of most nonprofit’s revenue increase year over year!

2. Donor Choice Becomes Vital

The latest research conducted by Adrian Sargeant’s Rogare Institute entitled “Relationship Fundraising: Where Do We Go From Here?” provides numerous insights into the donor/charity relationship and how it evolves over time.

What begins as a desire to help a cause that the donor believes in develops into a yearning to be connected and to actually have a relationship with the charity and its people. This means fundraisers and nonprofit executives must seek to understand the identity of their donors. They must realize the fact of life of donor choice and the identity most multi-year retained donors will be seeking.

Your 2017 Checklist

The final section of the report contains the rest of the key aspects being highlighted in this blog post. This section provides ten items to truly consider for 2017. Two of those items jumped out at me as I perused them.

3. Use of the IRA Charitable Rollover

Most small to medium size nonprofits engaged in fundraising do not explore such planned giving options with their donors. The IRA Charitable Rollover is an easy way to broach the subject especially if the stock market continues to rise as it has since our recent presidential election.

The amount of dollars here can be a game changer for your mission and can strengthen donor relationships for the balance of a lifetime and often into new generations!

4. Invest in Your Own Personal Training

The final item may just be the most important one because of the benefits that can be harvested for years to come.

Investing in you own personal training and expertise in fundraising and management knowledge can be as simple as attending a Bloomerang educational webinar or as far reaching as (A)CFRE certification and/or advanced degrees.

No matter what skills and knowledge are being gained, those skills will be used time and time again. Those skills will also allow you to provide mentoring and guidance to others in the charity world. These actions provide the foundation for better results and more missions funded for the entire sector!

The four key aspects listed above are my personal favorites. Did we miss any of yours? Please let me know in the comment area below.

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Jay Love

Jay Love

Co-Founder & Chief Relationship Officer at Bloomerang
A 30+ veteran of the nonprofit software industry, Jay Love co-founded Bloomerang in 2012. Prior to Bloomerang, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of eTapestry for 11 years, which at the time was the leading SaaS technology company serving the charity sector. Jay and his team grew the company to more than 10,000 nonprofit clients, charting a decade of record growth. Prior to starting eTapestry, Jay served 14 years as President and CEO of Master Software Corporation. MSC provided a widely used family of database products for the non-profit sector called Fund-Master. He currently serves on the board of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and is the past AFP Ethics Committee Chairman. Jay is also the author of Stay Together: How to Encourage a Lifetime of Donor Loyalty.
Jay Love