Last night Target Analytics released the results of their Index of National Fundraising Performance for the 3rd Quarter of 2008. While this benchmarking system always lags reality, it also makes clear the bad cards fundraisers were dealt in the recession of 2007-2008.The last time we reported on The Index, the number of donors was declining, but revenue per donor was increasing. All-in-all, in those ‘good old days’ money was fine, despite the warning signs about declining donor numbers.Today, according to the Index, there’s trouble in paradise:

  1. The number of donors are down;
  2. The revenue per donor growth which had made up for the ‘new donor’ deficit has also declined;
  3. Which means, according to the Index, overall revenue has declined. In fact, according to the folks at Target Analytics “overall revenue in the non-profit sector, when adjusted for inflation has fallen by 8.1% in the last three years.”

Overall, new donor acquistion is down 6.2%….retention is down 3.2%…and reactivation or reinstatement down by 5% over this reporting period. ( No wonder The Agitator is focusing on the issue of donor loyalty!)The only 2 sectors showing up as ‘gainers’ are the Animal Welfare folks and the Environmental sector which, respectively, gained 3.3% and .2% in the number of donors. The sector with the most woes is what Target Analytics calls “Societal Benefit” groups. They’re down 3.3% in donors and nearly 5% in revenue. These are groups like ACLU, Planned Parenthood, the Southern Poverty Law Center and Public Citizen.From a longer-term standpoint, the big worry I see from these data is that the numbers of donors have declined by 6+% and less than half the organizations reporting (45%) had positive new donor growth in the first three quarters of 2008. And remember the “news” of our economic disaster occured only at the end of the third quarter.One bright sign is that as times got worse for most, times also got better for some. Human Services organizations (America’s Second Harvest, Covenant House, etc.) outperformed the Index both in terms of new donors and the reactivation of lapsed donors. And who says donors don’t pay attention to what going on in the world?! “Winners” in the Index continue to be “Animal Welfare” and “Environmental” groups followed closely by “International Relief” groups (although they’ve declined substantially in recent Index reports.)Of course, Target Analytics is not in the recommendations or advice business, but take it from me, if you can find it in your heart to work for an organization that has a mascot named “Fido” who is fighting for clean air and alternative energy, take the job!Roger

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