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5 Key Takeaways From The Q2 2019 Fundraising Effectiveness Project Report

Second Quarter FEP Report

Second Quarter FEP Report

Each quarter the Fundraising Effectiveness Project releases its report based upon the data collected that year. It is one of the only such reports based upon actual data from over 176 million transactions across more than 20,000 nonprofit organizations.

Here is the latest report from the 2nd quarter of 2019.

The second quarter of 2019 did not produce a single metric with a positive increase of any kind!

Such a trend is dangerous to the fundraising profession and to the ability to properly fund core missions of virtually every type and size of nonprofit.

Let’s dig into five of those key metrics.

 1. Overall Fundraising Revenue is Down 7.3% 

When compared to 2018 the overall revenue to date is off by more than 7%. This will be difficult to make up in any year, but might be even more difficult during a political fundraising time period. This can also be impacted if there are any natural disasters such as hurricanes that often occur over the next couple of months.  

We certainly hope this is not the case and the third and fourth quarter results, which include Giving Tuesday and year-end fundraising will make up the deficit.   

2. New Donors Retention is Down 9.5%

Once again, the comparison is with 2018 where there now a drop of 9.5% during the first six months. This metric is important to note because many nonprofits who do not focus on, or succeed with, donor retention turn their focus on acquiring new donors.  

Obviously, if the new donor count is down as is spelled out in number 4 below along with new and existing donor retention, keeping revenue even at the same level as the previous year will be difficult. Often the only hope is that there is an increase in the size and number of major gifts or an influx of legacy giving.

3. Existing Donor Retention is Down 8.8%

A drop of nearly 9% in this category can be even more devastating in the future. Existing donors being retained are literally the foundation or the lifeblood of most nonprofit fundraising.

These donors are the easiest to upgrade and therefore are the most likely candidates for major and legacy gifts. To reduce the size of the pool of such candidates makes growing the funding of any mission difficult at best.

4. Number of Donors is Down 5.8%

The bad news keeps coming forward with this metric. The overall number of donors being down means neither acquisition or retention, or even recapturing lapsed donors, is high enough to maintain the donor count.    

So, as was the case with a few of the previous metrics, only larger size gifts from the remaining donors can allow the mission funding to keep pace with the previous year or to increase. Let’s all hope this improves over the latter six months of 2019.

5. The Percentage of Lapsed Donors Recaptured is Down 1.1%

This being the smallest of the decreases is hardly a cause for celebration. To witness the number of lapsed donors increasing and the recapture rate also decreasing means a bit of a downward spiral.

It would be interesting to know just how many nonprofits truly focused on a recapture strategy. Perhaps there was enough of them executing such a strategy to keep this decrease as the lowest.


The latest Fundraising Effectiveness Project quarterly report should sound numerous alarm bells in upcoming board and fundraising committees. New strategies involving best practices and improved communications need to spring into play.

Perhaps a base level of knowledge must be in place for such strategies to emerge. We would be remiss if we did not mention one new opportunity for such knowledge to be garnered. The Fundraising Standard provides an outstanding eight weeks of training based solely upon proven best practices. Here is more information on this training option that is often more economical than just the cost to travel alone for other training options. 

Please sound the alarm at your nonprofit and lay the groundwork for action to be taken. 2019 can still produce superior results! Best of luck in doing just that for your organization.

Stay Together - How to Encourage a Lifetime of Donor Loyalty

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  • Michelle Gorham

    Jay, is there anyone associated with the Fundraising Effectiveness Project that will come out to AFP chapters to discuss as an educational program?
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