August 30, 2018 The Holidays are Almost Here (if you are a nonprofit fundraiser)!

Successful annual and year end campaigns are being planned NOW. While it may feel like it’s a longtime away… you know better. And it’s a really, really big deal!




31% of Annual Giving Occurs in December (NPTech for Good)

In fact, 12% of all giving happens in the last three days of each year. (Charity Navigator)

Making the most of this opportunity is incredibly important.

You’ll want to start by understanding where you are starting from and where you have the most opportunities. Make it easy - use your data – and don’t guess.

What’s your Donor Retention Rate?

According to the Fundraising Effectiveness Report, nonprofits claimed a 45.5% donor retention rate in 2017. This means, of all the donors who made a gift to a certain nonprofit in 2016, only 45.5% made another gift during 2017. This is not a good sign for the donor relationships you are building and the amount of work you need to re-do every year.

How do you stack up? A low donor retention rate is your call to action. An alarm that your mission isn’t building enough passionate supporters. Every successful campaign starts with this measurement as your baseline. Then you can set goals and execute tactics to improve it. The old saying is “if you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.” Use August and September to get clear and create your plan and tactics.

Start by Calculating Your Donor Retention Rate (It’s not hard!)

Calculate your donor retention rate across consecutive periods — ideally years. You might have a donor CRM that calculates this for you. If not, here’s how to do that within your donor database:

  1. Pull a report of all unique donors who gave in 2016.
  2. Pull a report of all unique donors who gave in 2016 and who gave again in 2017.
  3. Divide #2 by #1 and multiply by 100. That’s your donor retention rate for 2017.


  • Make sure you count each donor only once, regardless of how often they gave in that year.
  • Break out other retention calculations to get the bigger picture of what’s happening with your donors. How are you doing with NEW first-time donors? How about with donors who have given in two consecutive years – how many give again the third year?
  • Look at your donor gift pyramid – consider looking at retention by dollar segment. Not all donors are created equal and it’s likely that 80% of your total giving comes from 20% of your donors. Focus your efforts on where you’ll have the most impact.

Data informs your plan.

Now, you’ll want to look at your Donor’s Journey.

Almost 60% of nonprofits make between 1-3 donor touches for their Fall year end campaigns.

How have you communicated with your donors through the rest of the year? Do you have a cycle of communication that Asks – Thanks – Reports  


Only 10% of nonprofits surveyed make more than five touches preparing for the annual season ask . Almost 28% make ZERO touches before their yearend campaign ask. If that single ask is the only time your donor is hearing from you, I imagine that you might have a lower overall retention rate issue too.

Schedule time on your calendar today with your team and get started. Gather enough data to help you set your goals and understand where to put the most effort for the most return. Then you can create a meaningful Fall Donor Journey that helps you reach those goals.

Need help? Download our nonprofit eBook and get started on your most successful ever Fall Giving Season and Annual Appeal yet!


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