Changing benchmarks to rethink challenges


In discussing recurring giving, Non-Profit Pro asks ‘Why focus on acquiring new donors if you don’t have any plans in place to keep them?”


This is the biggest conundrum in fundraising at the moment. 41% of nonprofits believe their biggest challenge is acquiring donors, yet we know 76% of donors don’t give past the first year. The cycle of spending effort, time and money to recruit new donors just for them to never give again, and then doing it all over again, is astounding.


Part of the problem is that the benchmarks that are in place to measure our success with donors are not the right ones. We measure the number of donors, amount of donations, number of legacy gifts, etc and we look at these measures all individually compared to prior years. What we’re not looking at is the percentage of donors who give a first donation, stay on to give another, turn into monthly donors, attend events, fundraise for you, and ultimately leave a legacy gift. The percentage of donors who get all the way from one end of a donor journey map right to this joyous end (the legacy pledge) is absolutely tiny. If we were to put in place benchmarks related to the success of getting donors through each step of the journey, we would then be able to see whether our efforts collectively in retaining donors are working and what can be done to help more donors come through the journey funnel.