Giving USA 2017: The Annual Report on Philanthropy for the Year 2016 is out, and there are many nuanced takeaways to be found within the report.

As if the report itself wasn’t enough, there’s no shortage of commentary from nonprofit experts around the country that can keep any nonprofit executive busy with hours of reading.

It All About Time Usage

Since it is already nearly halfway through the fundraising calendar year, those professional fundraisers who are just meeting the halfway goal or might be struggling to increase giving over the previous year, may desire a quick read with a single strong takeaway to use.

The foundation for most fundraising success in my 34 years of witnessing such success unfold across the United States is proper usage of time. Each year every fundraiser is given only a certain number of hours and a nearly endless amount of tasks to accomplish. Add to the above, a board and/or nonprofit leadership group suggesting various courses of action and sometimes chaos rather than decisive action can reign supreme.

Let’s look at what I consider the key chart from the current report:

If you add the giving from Individuals and Bequests together you end up with exactly 80%!


I do not think so…

Pareto Principle, Not This Time

We have all heard the old 80/20 Rule, where 80% of the results come from 20% of any group. That will hold true and more regarding the fundraising dollars coming from individuals due to how wealth and engagement are spread throughout any charity database.

However, let’s stick to the big picture as it applies toward daily time usage. The clear takeaway is to use 80% of your time seeking out and building relationships with individuals

Yes, there needs to be some time devoted to seeking foundation and government grants and working with corporations. (Keep in mind building strong relationships with individuals naturally leads to closer ties with the corporations those individuals lead…)

If a strong base of individual supporters can be built via top-notch relationship building, which takes time, they can be retained at well above average retention levels.

Using the proper percentage of time can lead to retention rates 10-20% higher than the average of 45%. This almost insures fundraising success and annual increases in giving levels by these dedicated donors. (Try the math yourself!)


So many endeavors in life work better with a more straightforward and simplistic approach. Please do read the entire Giving USA report, but do check your calendar for the first six months of 2017 to see if 80% of your time has been spent improving relationships with individuals. If your percentage is much lower, pause and think strongly about moving that percentage up to the 80% level.

We look forward to hearing if your results improve in the second half of 2017. Send me an email and let me know if that is the case.

Stay Together - How to Encourage a Lifetime of Donor Loyalty

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.