What Smaller Nonprofits Can Do With More Communication and Recurring Gifts
I was excited to read the “Small Nonprofit Fundraising Benchmark Report,” published by Network for Good and the NextAfter Institute based upon 2019 data and 2020 surveys.
This report publishes the key findings based on a survey of 1,222 nonprofit employees and an analysis of donation data from 2,832 organizations using Network for Good's fundraising software. Small nonprofits were defined as those raising less than $1 million, and often even $500,000 or less. The organizations reviewed had different types of missions.
Here are just a few highlights:
- 13% of revenue came from recurring donors.
- Average recurring gift $42 a month (or a total of $504 annually).
- 54% of revenue came from online channels.
- Average one-time gift size online: $110.
- 60% have an email list of fewer than 1,000 contacts.
- 82% of small nonprofits send fewer than one email per month.
- 79% of small nonprofits have mailing lists of fewer than 1,000 names.
- 89% of small nonprofits send direct mail fewer than twice per year.
- Multichannel donors are worth 234% more than online-only donors.
- Overall retention rate 49% (before the pandemic).
- Recurring donor retention rates were 92%!
- 77% of small nonprofits do not have a lapsed donor reactivation strategy. This ties back to the fewer than twice per year appeals.
- 31% of small nonprofits indicated they did not have a stewardship strategy. Most thought that an email receipt is the thank-you, which, of course, it isn’t.
- Those organizations that sent a combination of donation appeals and had at least weekly emails saw a 41% of increase in revenue.
I work with a mix of organizations of different sizes. Some are smaller than $1 million; some much larger. Most are afraid they’re overdoing it. Most are afraid to communicate with their donors and ask them for money. Whether it’s a one-time ask or a monthly ask, that doesn’t really matter.
In my mind and based upon my almost 30 years of experience fundraising with direct mail, email and monthly giving, there is a huge difference between sending something once a month and once a day.
I see so many organizations with so much great content to share. It’s often all squished into one humongous monthly email update. Just think how much more exposure you’d get and how much more money you’d raise if you only broke it up in smaller chunks and spread it out over the month.
Let’s link it back to recurring giving approaches:
If you’re a smaller organization that only sends an email once a month, try sending something once a week, make at least one of those a monthly giving ask and see what happens.
If you’re sending something once a week, try adding another email a week, make that a monthly giving ask and see what happens.
Are you raising more money?
One of the conclusions of the report was not surprising: Organizations with the most successful recurring giving programs are the ones that make recurring giving a priority.
That’s a universal truth for small and large organizations. Donors cannot read minds. You must ask them to help with a (monthly) gift. If they can help, they certainly will!
Erica Waasdorp is one of the leading experts on monthly giving. She is the president of A Direct Solution, a company serving nonprofit organizations with fundraising and direct marketing needs, with a focus on monthly giving and appeals. She authored "Monthly Giving: The Sleeping Giant" and "Monthly Giving Made Easy." She regularly blogs and presents on fundraising, appeals and monthly giving — in person and through webinars. She is happy to answer any questions you may have about this great way of improving retention rates for your donors.
Erica has over 30 years of experience in nonprofits and direct response. She helped the nonprofits she works with raise millions of dollars through monthly giving programs. She is also very actively supports organizations with annual fund planning and execution, ranging from copywriting, creative, lists, print and mail execution.
When she’s not working or writing, Erica can be found on the golf course (she’s a straight shooter) or quietly reading a book. And if there’s an event with a live band, she and her husband, Patrick, can be found on the dance floor. She also loves watching British drama on PBS. Erica and Patrick have two step sons and a cat, Mientje.