Recurring Donors 440 Percent More Valuable Than 'One-Off' Donors

Recurring Donors 440 Percent More Valuable Than 'One-Off' Donors

Recurring donors who give on a monthly basis donate 440 percent more to charity over their lifetime than one-time donors and 42 percent more than people who create a personal fundraising page in support of a cause, a report from Classy, an online fundraising platform, finds.

Based on an analysis of 2017 donor behavior data from the Classy Fundraising Suite — including more than 2.5 million donations, nearly 20,000 fundraising campaigns, and over 3,500 organizations — the report, The State of Modern Philanthropy: Examining Online Fundraising Trends (62 pages, PDF), found that the average lifetime financial return from a recurring donor is $795.62, compared with $147.23 from a one-time donor. The analysis also found that one-time donations averaged $118, with a median of $50; that recurring donations averaged $38, with a median of $25; and that 75 percent of monthly giving plans continued for at least six months and typically lasted for thirteen months.

According to the analysis, "fundraising supporters" — people who create a personal fundraising page in support of a cause — generated the highest short-term financial return. But with a lifetime average donation total of $558.72 and a median of $146, they provided 42 percent less in terms of average lifetime financial return than recurring donors. In addition, the report found that 76 percent of donations made in response to a peer-to-peer campaign are made to an individual's fundraising page, not an organization's campaign page; that transactions conducted via mobile devices account for 38 percent of transactions in peer-to-peer campaigns and 21 percent of those involving donation pages; and that the median age of a mobile donor is 36.

"Online fundraising isn't a single thing — today's digital philanthropists can engage through mobile, interact with different campaign types like peer-to-peer or crowdfunding, commit to a recurring gift, register for events, and participate in unplanned inflection points like disasters and political events," said Ben Cipollini, director of engineering for data insights at Classy. "To that end, nonprofits need to demonstrate more flexibility and strategy in their fundraising than ever before, so we created this report to shine a light on their common paths to growth."