In my Tuesday post, I lamented the meager growth in fundraising performance over 2016, as reported by the Fundraising Effectiveness Project.

And I observed that it was the smallest groups that performed the worst, noting specifically the difficulty these groups have with retaining donors.

Today, looking deeper into my in-basket, I’ve discovered a resource just for smaller organizations … in this case a slightly larger category, organizations with revenue less than $2 million. From Third Space Studio, the Individual Donor Benchmark Report, prepared in 2015 and looking at the practices of 119 “small and mighty” nonprofits.

If organisations this size had more resources, what would they do? According to this report:

  1. Hire more fundraising help!!
  2. Improve database or other fundraising technology.
  3. Spend more time meeting and engaging donors face-to-face.
  4. Invest in prospect research and acquisition tools.

And down at 10th on the list … Start or strengthen recurring donations campaign!

The report authors stress that “having a fundraising plan is the key indicator for successful fundraising”. Their data confirms that nonprofits with a plan generate more of their overall revenue from individuals, have more individual donors, and higher average gifts from them.

Now this might sound like a big ‘DUH!’, but when you think about the typical smaller nonprofit, with a jack-of-all-trades executive director, perhaps no full-time and trained fundraising staff, maybe it’s not so obvious that a thought-through plan is a necessity … and maybe little know-how to do one.

For the groups studied, a ‘plan’ includes:

  • Calendar of activities.
  • List of overall fundraising strategies and goals.
  • Detailed breakdown of fundraising activities.
  • Assessment of previous year fundraising results.

We’re talking pretty basic stuff here, and I can’t vouch for every piece of advice in the report (get it here), but if your organization is on the small side, maybe this report is the right starting point.


P.S. And guess what you big shots out there, the report emphasizes donor retention rates (“one of the most critical pieces of data”) and the average retention rate of the groups studied was 61%. Eat those bananas!



This article was posted in: Donor retention / loyalty / commitment, Fundraising philosophy/profession, Nonprofit management.
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