5 Troubling Nonprofit Statistics | npENGAGE

5 Troubling Nonprofit Statistics

By on Oct 28, 2010


I spend a lot of time looking at metrics and benchmarks from across the nonprofit sector. As often as possible I try to talk about positive trends that are happening. That’s not the case this time.

Here are five statistics from across the nonprofit sector that trouble me and should really trouble you.

1. First Year Donor Retention is 29.3%
The Target Analytics donorCentrics Index of National Fundraising Performance for 2009 reported this trend. That means 7 out of 10 donors don’t give again the following year. If you ran a business and lost 70% of your customers every year, then you probably wouldn’t be open for long.

2. Fundraising Email Response Rate is 0.13%
The 2010 eNonprofit Benchmarks Study reports this gem. That means more than 99% of fundraising emails don’t result in a donation. This is despite countless books, webinars, presentations, and many years of email being used by nonprofits.

3. 67% of donors plan to eliminate or reduce support to nonprofits that over‐solicit
The 2010 Cygnus Donor Survey notes this and other trends. That means that today’s donor is not yesterday’s donor. They want more measurable results, better management practices, and are giving to less organizations.

4. Only 26% of Nonprofits Rated their Websites Very Effective
This is from the 2010 State of the Nonprofit Industry Survey. That means 74% of nonprofit websites aren’t considered effective despite technology no longer being the limiting factor. We are beyond talking about just having a strategy — now is the time for getting real results.

5. Recurring Gift Donors only accounted for 10% of all US Donors
The Target Analytics 2009 donorCentrics U.S. Recurring Giving Benchmarking Analysis says so. That means organizations are missing out on more stable and predictable fundraising revenue. Not to mention that recurring donor populations have grown 22% from 2005 to 2009, compared to a decline of 13% in single-gift donors.

No sugar coating these trends. No buzzword compliant magic wand fixes it all. There are some really hard questions the nonprofit sector needs to ask itself. The same is true for anyone that serves these organizations. The status quo is a dead end street.

Let me know on Twitter @SMacLaughlin what you think and use the #nptrends hash tag.


Steve MacLaughlin is the Vice President of Data & Analytics at Blackbaud and bestselling author of Data Driven Nonprofits.

MacLaughlin has been featured as a fundraising and nonprofit expert in many mainstream publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, USA Today, The NonProfit Times, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Bloomberg, and has appeared on NPR.

He is a frequent speaker at events including the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP), American Marketing Association (AMA), Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), Direct Marketing Fundraisers Association (DMFA), Giving Institute Summer Symposium, National Association of Independent School (NAIS), Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC), Institute of Fundraising National Convention (United Kingdom), Civil Society Conference (Netherlands), International Fundraising Congress (Netherlands), Ask Direct Fundraising Summer School (Ireland), and a keynote speaker at several conferences across the social good sector.

Steve previously served on the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN) Board of Directors and is currently an adjunct faculty member at Columbia University.

He is a frequent blogger, published author of a chapter in the book People to People Fundraising: Social Networking and Web 2.0 for Charities, and is a co-editor of the book Internet Management for Nonprofits: Strategies, Tools & Trade Secrets. His latest book, Data Driven Nonprofits, became a bestseller in 2016.

Steve earned both his undergraduate degree and a Master of Science degree in Interactive Media from Indiana University.

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