[INFOGRAPHIC] 2013 Fundraising Effectiveness Project Survey Report

On September 16th, the Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP) released the findings from their 2013 survey. For the first time in five years, charity respondents saw positive gains in giving, but still continued to lose donors faster than they gained them.

FEP Report

The 2013 Fundraising Effectiveness Project report summarizes data from 2,840 survey respondents covering year-to-year fundraising results for 2011-2012. The report shows that:

  • Gains of $769 million in gifts from new, upgraded current, and previously lapsed donors were offset by losses of $735 million through reduced gifts and lapsed donors. This means that, while there was a positive $34 million net growth-in-giving, every $100 gained in 2012 was offset by $96 in losses through gift attrition. That is, 96 percent of gains in giving were offset by losses in giving.
  • Gains of 866,000 in new and previously lapsed donors were offset by losses of 909,000 in lapsed donors. This means that there was a negative (44,000) growth-in-donors and every 100 donors gained in 2012 was offset by 105 in lost donors through attrition. That is, 105 percent of the donors gained were offset by lapsed donors.
  • Growth-in-giving performance varies significantly according to organization size (based on total amount raised), with larger organizations performing much better than smaller ones:
    • Organizations raising $500,000 or more had an average 16.6 percent net gain.
    • Organizations raising $100,000 to $500,000 had an average net loss of -5.1 percent.
    • Organizations in the under $100,000 groups had an average net loss of -13.5 percent.
  • The largest growth in gift dollars/donors came from new gifts/donors, and the pattern was most pronounced in the organizations with the highest growth-in-giving ratios.
  • The greatest losses in gift dollars came from lapsed new gifts, particularly in the organizations with the lowest and highest growth-in-giving ratios. The greatest losses in donors came from lapsed new donors in all growth-in-giving categories.

Click here to download the 2013 FEP report in PDF.

About the Fundraising Effectiveness Project

In 2006 the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and the Center on Nonprofits and Philanthropy at the Urban Institute established the Fundraising Effectiveness Project to conduct research on fundraising effectiveness and help nonprofit organizations increase their fundraising results at a faster pace.

The project goal is to help nonprofit organizations measure, compare, and maximize their annual growth in giving.


7-year donor retention rate from 2004-05 (50%) to 2010-11 (41%) – Figure 2 in the Urban Institute’s “Donor Retention Matters” brief at http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/412731-Donor-Retention-Matters.pdf

The 39% donor retention rate for 2011-12 is the reciprocal of the median donor attrition (*) rate of 61% found on page 18 (“All donor losses”) in the 2013 Fundraising Effectiveness Report at http://www.afpnet.org/files/ContentDocuments/FEP2013FinalReport.pdf

Other figures in the infographic also come from the 2013 FEP report.

(*) The FEP core concept has been — and still is — that growth in giving is the net of gains minus losses (attrition). Thus, all the annual FEP reports so far have analyzed “attrition” rather than its reciprocal “retention.”

Please see the Donor Retention Supplement for information on donor retention at http://www.afpnet.org/files/ContentDocuments/FEP2011ReportSupplement-11-18-11.pdf

AJ Schaefer
AJ is a Graphic Design intern at Bloomerang. He is currently attending Ball State University.
By |2017-06-10T19:55:07-04:00October 8th, 2013|Donor Retention|


  1. […] On September 16th, the Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP) released the findings from their 2013 survey. Here's an infographic that visualizes the data:  […]

  2. […] in giving…but continuing to lose donors faster than the speed of light. According to the annual Fundraising Effectiveness Project survey, for the first time in five years nonprofit respondents saw positive gains, amounting to $769 […]

  3. […] to shiny object syndrome when it comes to new and exciting ways to generate donations, but the dismal data on donor retention begs for a change in mentality. Imagine the results from focusing on the cultivation of existing […]

  4. Lea April 15, 2014 at 1:35 pm - Reply

    This infographic is great and really informative.
    I understand other donor management softwares create memorized reports that correspond to the AFP FEP metrics. Do you have similar reports one can run in Bloomerang?

    • Steven Shattuck
      Steven Shattuck April 15, 2014 at 2:19 pm - Reply

      You bet, Lea! Do reach out to our support team – they will walk you through it.

  5. Poppy May 29, 2014 at 1:54 pm - Reply

    I’m looking for information on what goal an organization should set for donor retention. If I know that my donor retention is 40%, what should I be aiming for? 50%? 80%? What’s reasonable?

    • Steven Shattuck
      Steven Shattuck May 29, 2014 at 2:14 pm - Reply

      Hey Poppy, a great first milestone is to get above the national average, which is 39%. Sounds like you’re already there. After that, try for incremental increases year-over-year. Can you get to 45% in 2014? 50% in 2015? Just a 10% increase will literally double the lifetime value of your entire database!

  6. […] Retention rates for new donors are horrible. Actually, retention rates in general are bad. Nonprofit Donor Retention Primer […]

  7. […] gives them reasons to love giving to you. That means loyalty and increased giving over time. Bloomerang reports the Fundraising Effectiveness Project’s 2013 survey found only 22.9% of first-t… That’s awful! Make retention your priority. You’ll watch your base […]

  8. […] we’re failing to pay attention to the donors we have — and as a result we’re simply losing donors at a faster rate than we are acquiring […]

  9. Grace Washington January 8, 2015 at 10:52 am - Reply

    Our individual retention rate is 46%. So I understand based on your plan, we should set a goal for 56%, but a question my board is asking is what is really possible? If we implement a really strong donor retention plan, what could we eventually get to? I haven’t been able to find any data on this.. Thanks!

    • Steven Shattuck
      Steven Shattuck January 8, 2015 at 11:00 am - Reply

      Hey Grace, 46% is pretty good! I absolutely think you can get to 56% or higher (a Bloomerang customer shared with us just yesterday that their rate is 70% (670/971 donors)).

      No need to set your goal so high. Try for a 1 or 2% change to start, and then go from there!

  10. Elisa Davis January 21, 2015 at 6:18 pm - Reply

    What’s your source for the new donor retention rate of 22.9%? I’m trying to benchmark our program and compared to that statistic we’re doing well, but from pg 18 of the report you referenced it looks like median rate is 34.6% of new donors lapse, which would be an average retention of ~66% if I’m thinking about this correctly. 22% vs 66% is a big difference, thanks for helping to clarify!

  11. […] you can compare your organization to the nonprofit sector as a whole.  According to the 2013 Fundraising Effectiveness Project Survey, the overall new donor retention rate for the nonprofit sector in 2012 was 22.9%. Your board should […]

  12. Are you ignoring your annual fund? February 7, 2015 at 10:14 pm - Reply

    […] gives them reasons to love giving to you. That means loyalty and increased giving over time. Bloomerang reports the Fundraising Effectiveness Project’s 2013 survey found only 22.9% of first-t… That’s awful! Make retention your priority. You’ll watch your base […]

  13. […] This may seem like a no-brainer. However, as marketers and fundraisers, we sometimes like to imagine that individuals we already have a relationship with are in it for the long-haul, no matter how we engage them. This school of thought can really affect constituent retention, an issue (based on donors) that is well documented as a challenge for nonprofit organizations. […]

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