Target Analytics, a Blackbaud company, announced the latest Index of National Fundraising Performance for the fourth quarter of 2008. The index compares trends in key fundraising indicators from 75 organizations, including over 36 million donors and more than 68 million gifts totaling over $2 billion in revenue. The index findings include giving data from direct mail, online, telemarketing, events, and other fundraising channels. You can get a complete summary of the latest index findings here.
Revenue and Donor Trends
Index revenue declined a median -3.3% from 2007 to 2008. Revenue declines were not entirely universal across the index, however; 37% of the organizations in the index did have positive revenue growth from 2007 to 2008. Donor numbers in the index fell a median -3.0% from 2007 to 2008. Donors have been declining consistently for the past three years, but it should be noted that 40% of the organizations in the index had positive donor growth from 2007 to 2008.
Declining new donor acquisition was not the only reason for the decline in overall donor populations, however; retention rates also fell in 2008 by a median -1.4% from the previous year, and reactivation rates fell a median -6.0% over the same period. Revenue per donor has increased for the past three years, although the rate of growth slowed in 2008. Revenue per donor grew 1.2% from 2007 to 2008, after 4.3% growth the previous year. Just over half (56%) of the organizations in the index had revenue per donor increases in 2008.
New Online Giving Trends
For the first time, the index included trends in online giving. In 2008, a median 77% of all revenue came in through the mail, a median 4% came in through telemarketing, and a median 7% came in over the internet. However, the proportion of revenue coming in online has grown over the past five years. In 2004, internet gifts made up a median 3% of all revenue. But by 2008, the internet accounted for a median 7% of total revenue.
As with overall giving, most new donors continue to be acquired through the mail. In 2008 a median 87% of all new donors were acquired through the mail for the index as a whole, while only 9% of all new donors were acquired online. Also as with overall giving, however, the proportion of new donors being acquired online is growing. Over the past five years, the proportion of donors acquired online rose from a median of 4% in 2004 to 9% in 2008
The index's analysis found that two sectors – animal welfare and international relief – had consistently strong performances this year, in stark contrast to the rest of the index. Both of these sectors had increases in revenue and donor numbers in 2008 while all other sectors had declines. Most other key metrics were strong for these two sectors as well, including revenue per donor and retention rates.
Certain sectors – particularly human services – performed unusually strongly in the third quarter of 2008, accounting for the slight overall rebound in fundraising performance in that quarter. There may be several different reasons for the strong third-quarter performance of human services organizations. As the economy worsened in 2008, donors may have felt that it was even more important to give to those organizations that provide services to the needy.
There may also have been an increase in interest in human services issues highlighted by the 2008 presidential campaigns. And organizations may have chosen to drop October and November mailings early to avoid competition with an expected glut of election-related direct mail. This last action may have had the effect of depressing fourth-quarter results as well.